Thursday, March 3, 2011

Some of my thoughts on Shell's statements:

Here are some statements from Shell vice president Bonang Mohale: (My questions/opinions in BOLD)

Asked about the impacts of the study on the community, Mohale said Shell will provide any Karoo landowners with documentary proof of any direct damage or loss that they might suffer as a consequence of Shell's activities on their properties. Shell would then make full compensation. 

Exactly the same has been said to countless communities in the US.  The problem with this statement is simply that when damage is suffered as a result of fracking, unless it is something direct like a well blow-out, explosion, etc, the responsible oil company will NEVER admit to DIRECT damage.  One such case in the US is of Louis Meeker, who has spent his life’s savings trying to prove damage was done to his water. (

The point is, once the damage is done, it is very easy for companies to claim they did not cause the damage, and it is very hard for private individuals to try and personally fight a global oil company, like Shell, who has endless money and reserves.  Thus, if, for instance, your water gets contaminated, by either fracking fluids, or gas, they will simply claim that everything has been done according to law and regulation, and there was nothing wrong (They will have proof that everything was done according to legislation), and therefore, because they have done everything “by the book”, they are not DIRECTLY responsible, and they will not pay. There are many documented cases like this in the US.

The companies in the US and Australia are now claiming that people who can light their water on fire have always had high methane levels in their water (untrue); the oil companies refuse to acknowledge that there is very little/not enough information on how fracking affects gas and fluid migration deep underground.  It is evident that gas and fracking fluids are migrating into the groundwater, and to the surface, and the “guaranteed safe processes” used by the oil companies are not able to prevent this.

If successfully developed, Mohale said shale gas could become a viable alternative for South Africa's power generation.

I feel that the stress here should be on the COULD, in the sentence.  The real question is: is the risk of losing several communities because of not properly researched and dangerous technology worth finding out that it is not feasible to extract the gas?  We already KNOW that gas is NOT a sustainable resource.  Why take the risk?

"It will have no impact on the Square Array Project," he told media in Johannesburg

This is a very confident statement, and one I have to disagree with.

The SKA will form a giant antenna of 4,000 listening devices that will cover 1 sq km, pointed to the far corners of the universe. At €1.5 billion and funded by 16 European nations, it will be the most expensive telescope ever built.
It will be up to 100 times more sensitive than any existing radio telescope and help answer fundamental questions about the laws of nature and physics, including the study of "dark energy" and "dark matter".
The South African government has heavily backed the bid to host the SKA, the winner of which will be announced next year.
It has spent R200 million so far, and the country already has a substantial, although smaller, observatory in the Karoo, which is in constant demand from foreign and local astronomers.
Dozens of local star gazers, many from poor backgrounds, have been trained in anticipation of winning the bid.
Their chief concern is that to extract shale gas, the earth in which it is found is shattered using a hydraulic process known as fracturing. This, they say, will create noise and vibrations that will interfere with the SKA's operation.
"Telescopes are highly sensitive instruments and if the ground moves beneath them it will be disastrous," says Dr Adrian Tiplady, a spokesman for the SKA project.
"Even the use of hand-held radios can disturb the functioning of radio telescopes. The reason we selected this site is because it was so undisturbed."
The SKA bid is underwritten by the government, which has cherished the goal of developing African scientific achievement. But at the same time, the lure of cheap energy and jobs creation is also compelling.

"Fracking is a very temporary process and only lasts a number of days or weeks," said Tiley (general manager for new ventures and international exploration at Shell), who explained that once the drilling was done, all that would be left would be a "Christmas tree" the size of a garden chair.

To this I would just like to say that although the physical process/action of fracking might be temporary, the after effects are PERMANENT, and I am sure Mr Tiley would not welcome a “Christmas tree” in his garden.

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