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Shell’s Karoo fracking plans ended

South Africa Endorses Plans For Karoo Gas-Drill Freeze, Ending Shell Hopes

By Robert Brand – Apr 21, 2011 2:31 PM GMT+0100

South Africa’s Cabinet endorsed the Department of Mineral Resources’ decision to declare a moratorium on natural-gas drilling in the Karoo region, halting plans by Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), Europe’s largest oil company.

The department will lead an investigation into the implications of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that will include assessing the environmental effects, government spokesman Jimmy Manyi told reporters in Pretoria today.

“Cabinet has made it very clear that a clean environment together with all the ecological aspects will not be compromised,” Manyi said. The cabinet is aware of the “urgency that is required in this respect,” he added.

Royal Dutch Shell applied for permission to drill about 24 wells in an area of about 90,000 square kilometers (34,749 square miles). The company faces opposition in the sheep- and game-farming region, an arid stretch across northwest South Africa, from the Treasure the Karoo Action Group, which fears environmental damage.

Shell would seek clarity from the minerals department on the “full implications” of the moratorium, the company said in an e-mailed statement.

“Shell will support local research efforts into hydraulic fracturing as this will provide clarity and an improved understanding of the technology,” the company said. “Shell is fully committed to support the development of best-in-class regulatory standards for hydraulic fracturing in South Africa.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Brand in Cape Town at rbrand[email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Gavin Serkin at [email protected]

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