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Shell’s S. Africa Shale Plan Should Be Halted, Lawyers Say

April 6 (Bloomberg) — Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s application to start shale-gas exploration in South Africa’s Karoo region should be terminated because it lacks sufficient information for regulators to assess it properly, Havemann Inc. attorneys said.

Shell, planning to drill about 24 wells in an area of about 90,000 square kilometers (34,749 square miles), faces opposition to its proposed hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, in the sheep and game farming region, an arid stretch across northwest South Africa, from the Treasure the Karoo Action Group, which has 3,000 supporters and commissioned Havemann to compile the report.

“Information about the proposed activities is incomplete; information about sources of water is absent; information on chemicals to be used in fracking is missing,” the Cape Town- based specialist attorneys’ firm said.

The government’s capacity to evaluate and enforce compliance by Shell “is in serious doubt,” Havemann also said in the report, adding that the Department of Water Affairs “has less than a third of the officials it needs to enforce compliance.” Linda Page, a spokeswoman for the department, didn’t immediately respond to a message left on her mobile phone.

Shell said last month it expects the national petroleum agency to decide whether to award the three permits it applied for in three different areas by or on Aug. 12. Dennis Matsane, a spokesman for the company in South Africa, didn’t immediately respond to a message left on his mobile phone.

Shale formations consist of dense rock that can be broken apart to release trapped oil and gas. Advances in directional drilling and so-called hydraulic fracturing techniques have increased production from shale fields. Hydraulic fracturing injects water, sand and chemicals into the rock to crack it.

–Editors: Antony Sguazzin, Karl Maier

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