Specialising in
Grey Water
Rainwater Harvesting systems in South Africa .

Pro-fracking argument is all gas

By: Jeremy Westgarth-Taylor

In his address on fracking at the Press Club on May 23, Chris Nissen made some extraordinarily erroneous statements.

What's so pretty about this? Photo by World Resources Institute

Mr Nissen agreed that the ANC had a financial interest in Shell, but he sees nothing wrong with this. Thus the ANC are both the decision makers – as to whether the practice of fracking should go ahead – and part owners of the fracking company. This makes them both the player and referee.

He states that the groundwater in the Karoo is “useless”. He thereby, accepts that the groundwater will indeed be destroyed by fracking. Mr Nissen, the whole of the Karoo depends on groundwater for its survival. By polluting the aquifer, the Karoo as we know it today will be destroyed forever.

Is your memory so short that you forget that only last year Beaufort West was kept alive by some kind folk who donated and trucked water to the town when their dam completely dried up? The town thereafter survived on water supplied exclusively from boreholes.

If the ANC and Shell partnership goes ahead then municipalities will die too.

The surface water will be affected too. It will be polluted from the drilling tailings, fracking fluids and radioactive minerals left on the surface that will run off into rivers. Add to this the trillions of litres of sea water that Shell and others intend to truck into the Karoo, the first avenue is into rivers.

Addressing the topic of renewables, Mr Nissen spoke of the ugliness of wind turbines. He did not mention PV (photovoltaic) technology at all. Are drilling rigs, gas pipelines, pylons and coal power stations pretty? Why single out wind turbines? Continue reading Pro-fracking argument is all gas

What are the merits of fracking?

By: Jeremy Westgarth-Taylor

Test results indicate that at least one common fracking chemical has contaminated drinking water in the town of Pavillion, Wyoming.

How strange it is that a department DEA (Department of Environmental Affairs) which ironically shares a ministerial portfolio with Water Affairs (DWEA) should suggest that fracking be given a chance and saying that there was “merit” in carrying out some hydraulic fracturing.  There were no merits in what was reported though the report did mention one demerit in what they had said viz – “the avoidance of the contamination of fresh water resources” in the Karoo.  So what in fact are the merits of fracking?  As there were no meritorious things mentioned we have a chance to look at some of the negative things.


  • Shell’s employees are on record as having said that they wish to burn the methane gas produced from fracking wells on their pad sites.  These pads will be on somebodies farmlands, and they plan to generate electricity from the burning of the gas thus sending millions of tons of carbon dioxide per annum into the air.  This will supplement the CO2 already generated in South Africa from the burning of coal.  The question should be asked why use fossil fuels to generate electricity? Have they not heard that economists agree that it is now less expensive to generate electricity with renewables such as from photo voltaic panels i.e. solar energy than by using fossil fuels.  Continue reading What are the merits of fracking?

There’s no future in fracking

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 20 July 2011

Oil companies were today (Tuesday) asked to drop their plans to use hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) to extract shale gas from the Karoo and other areas in South Africa.

Millions of litres of water […]

Working frack site raises new concerns about natural gas extraction

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 15 June 2011

By: Sarah Wild – guest of Royal Dutch Shell in Wyoming

Having seen a natural gas extraction facility that works — and, despite its problems, Shell’s onshore natural gas development in Pinedale, Wyoming, works — it is not certain whether natural gas extraction will be the holy grail of energy and the employment cash cow that SA expects it to be.

Wyoming’s Pinedale anticline raises new concerns about natural gas extraction

The country has been divided since it became public that Shell and several other energy companies had fixed their gaze on the Karoo and the shale gas reserves far beneath its surface.

Some have argued that it will solve SA’s energy crisis, ensuring a fuel supply for about 200 years; help the country move away from its dependence on coal; and create “unprecedented” employment.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, SA has technically recoverable shale gas resources of 13,7-trillion cubic metres, which could allow it to be energy independent.

The 1,1-trillion cubic metres of natural gas from the Pinedale Anticline can supply 10-million homes with electricity for more than 30 years.

Others have said natural gas would simply reinforce SA’s dependence on fossil fuels and cause irreparable environmental damage to an area with world- renowned biodiversity.

The Pinedale facility debunks a number of the myths but raises new concerns about natural gas extraction, including the contentious technique of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”. Continue reading Working frack site raises new concerns about natural gas extraction

Drinking water contaminated by fracking

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 11 May 2011

Methane leaks are contaminating drinking water near shale gas drilling sites in the eastern United States, scientists said on Tuesday, placing a further question mark over this fast-growing energy source.

Shale gas carries a greater carbon footprint than oil, coal and conventional gas, using current extraction techniques

Scientists tested water samples taken from 68 private wells in five counties in Pennsylvania and New York to explore accusations that “hydro-fracking” – a contested technique to extract shale gas – contaminated groundwater.

Methane was found in 85 percent of the samples, and at sites within a kilometre of active hydraulic-fracturing operations, levels were 17 times higher than in wells far from such operations, said the study by researchers at Duke University in North Carolina.

“In these rural areas, almost everybody has a well. They are using the groundwater for some purpose – they are using it for drinking, for their livestock, for agriculture,” lead author Stephen Osborn told AFP.

However, little is known about the health impacts of consuming methane in drinking water.

“We were surprised, and we have spoken with many health officials,” he said.

“There is really no literature that addresses that particular issue – the physiological response – is methane really non-reactive in the body? What are the effects of consuming high concentrations of methane?” Continue reading Drinking water contaminated by fracking