The Strategic Environmental Assessment for shale gas exploration has given us four possible fracking futures:
- No shale exploration
- Exploration, but no economically viable gas
- About 5-trillion cubic feet of gas, which would be enough for one 1,000MW power station
- About 20-trillion cubic feet of gas, which could power two 2,000MW power stations and a gas-to-liquid plant.
You can read about them more in-depth here.
Fracking, already controversial for its potential environmental impact, could spell disaster for poor and corrupt municipalities, bringing further harm to areas already poorly governed.
This is one of the possibilities sketched out in an as-yet-unreleased assessment of the possible impact of hydraulic fracturing to recover shale gas in South Africa.
This week, an assessment team of scientists and experts released the first chapter of a highly anticipated report on fracking, and its likely impact, to help guide government policy.
While exploiting the natural gas could provide a much-needed new energy source for electricity-hungry South Africa, the team says it could also inadvertently entrench historical inequality, and disrupt the social fabric of the region where the gas can be exploited.
For more, you can find the story — first published in the Cape Times — here.
Also, this chapter of the report is available for the public. Here is a my breakdown of the four different fracking scenarios.
It began in 2010: whispers of “shale gas”, “game changer”, “fracking” and “Karoo”. They issued from boardrooms, diplomatic quarters, government circles and the quiet corners of sleepy towns and soon infiltrated conversations all around South Africa.
By 2013, this murmur had turned into a cacophony of contestation, thousands of newspaper centimetres and hours of television time. Should South Africa frack the Karoo Basin, where there was an estimated 485 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable shale gas?
There was little room for middle ground in the fracking debate: you were either with us, or against us. (“Us” was either the “protectors of South Africa’s environmental and cultural heritage” or “pragmatists trying to push economic development and energy security”. Them was, respectively, “greedy, self-serving capitalists” or “dirty hippies”.)
It took five years for the government to say, “Wait a minute, let’s ask the experts.”
For more, find the analysis — first published by Independent Newspapers — here.