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A letter to shell. – Fracking in the Karoo

Questions for Shell at the proposed meeting 25th March 2011

Dear Shell, I have done a study of other frackers, and I see no difference between you and others elsewhere worldwide, what with the lack of transparency and downright lies.

Fracking in our Karoo is not something that we simply don’t want.  We are not going to have it.  It will not go ahead if nothing else because of the strength of our consumerism.  This is not Nigeria where Shell can simply do what Shell pleases.

You and your minions Golder have promised us a lot of things during our meetings, the answers to questions which have not been answered and at best have been obfuscated.  Are you lying or simply being economical with the truth in these examples?

For instance when asked about the toxic compounds that you intend to introduce into the earth after drilling have been completed to start your fracking process your Adam Dodson said in one or more meetings: This was:

1.     Ice cream. He said one of the chemicals used in fracking is also used in ice cream.

2.     The chemicals were something which you would report in the EMP proposal which is not there.

3.     The Chemicals are of proprietary nature and could not expose them.

4.     Could not tell us because the geology differs in every area from place to place.

Clearly and succinctly answer which of these is the correct answer, and let us know whether diesel is one of the ingredients.  Why don’t you give us the list of all the possible ingredients for this purpose?

We read in the newspapers conflicting things and on the basis of the conflicting items we need some answers.

You say that PASA (Petroleum agency of South Africa) exempted you from submitting exact site proposals. You have even given chapter and verse of the act (MPRDA 2002.  THIS CLAIM HAS BEEN DISPELLED BY Graaff-Rienet attorney Derek Light who said that PASA had no authority to exempt anyone from the provisions of the act.  This is a question of integrity.  You do not have exemption because PASA deny having given you exemption. Were you lying when you made this claim? Derek has the letter from the CEO of PASA stating that ‘no exemptions made, including Shell’

Source of water:  You are on record as having said that “we will not compete with farmers over water”.  There is only enough water in the Karoo to sustain farmers. What if you find water below 300 metres?  Will you then say that it is fine to use this water because we are not competing with farmers, even though it may lower the water table or directly affect the aquifers closer to the surface?  You cannot say this is not going to happen because there is no research on the inter-relationship between the aquifers and such research would take 5 years.

Question:

1.     Do you deny that you intend using the Karoo’s Groundwater?

2.     Do you as you stated intend to drill up to eleven kilometres for water?  If so:

3.     What is the quality of the water at that level?

4.     Does this water resemble the salinity of sea water?

5.     How much of this water will become artesian, and for the sake of those who don’t understand this term, this simply means water that rises to the surface.  After all this is the case at Kuruman which is not so far away.

6.     Do you intend using AMD water in your drilling and fracking process as stated to parliament by Jennifer Marot of PASA?

7.     What in short do you know of the water below 300 metres in the Great Karoo?  Nobody else seems to know anything at all.

8.     Can you guaranty that if you find water below 300 metres that this water will not pollute either groundwater or surface water, and if you are not able to guaranty that, what guaranties are you offering for reparation for damage done?  No guaranties will be good enough as reparation because once water I polluted the damage is not worth any amount of money.  Water is priceless in the Karoo, and you are so fork tongued you will get out of reparations of any kind.

Why, when you declare that your environmental impacts on your drilling activities will be “low” as stated in your EMP when you will not  / cannot name the characteristic chemicals in your drilling and fracking process? Surely we need the ingredients for anyone – government or policing body to check up on you?

I now refer to one of your advertisements in the newspaper.  How much did you pay for this drivel and propaganda? (page 12 Argus Tuesday March 15 2011.)

Allay fears:

You are dealing with poor communities in the Karoo.  Communities will not have money to go to court to prove claims from your fracking activities. In my opinion you and your minion Golder are guilty of lies of the worst kind.

To allay our concerns, and after all I think we have caught you out lying at every intersection over this application: the courts are very expensive in South Africa.  You have also spent a lot of money on these applications and are by all appearances hell bent on turning South Africa into another Nigeria.  Are you prepared to put say a billion Rand into trust for these communities to use in the event of likely claims before proceeding with any fracking work whatsoever?  Will you fight each and every case after people have died from the carcinogens and any other poisonous malaise in your fracking process, or will you need them to prove ‘direct negative impact’ as a result of your operations, and I ask you who is going to get this right against Shell?

Many uses of the gas has been postulated, carting it to market, firing up gas fired power stations etc.

In the unlikely event that you do get it right to do your fracking all over the 90 000 square kilometers of the Karoo:

What do you intend doing with the gas?

Why is this gas better than coal in terms of its total carbon emissions?  There is no science to support lower carbon emissions.

What are you going to do with the condensate?

Let it be ion the record right now that there is at present not one single borehole polluted with hydrocarbons in the Great Karoo.  If anyone should present with ethane, methane, propane, butane, or benzene in their boreholes, or any other hydrocarbons for that matter, are you first going to ask them to prove it or will you accept responsibility?  A simply yes or no will suffice.

A question for Tony Fortis (once a South African):  You now live in Quebec. In Quebec a moratorium has been placed on fracking.   Is that correct?  You have been asked this question before and you could not provide an affirmative answer.  “Can you 100% guaranty our environment will not be contaminated by Shell?” previously you could not provide this, and after all your propaganda bought in the newspapers, are you now able to provide this guaranty?

Are Shell looking into sustainable and renewable energy sources such as sun and wind power rather than – environmentally hazardous and air polluting – energy augmentation schemes? We would welcome that, and after all you have already invested in Solar projects elsewhere in the world, so why not here?

Finally Shell:  what is it going to take for you and you whole team to go and do your fracking somewhere else?  Is it going to take for South Africa to Boycott all Shell’s service stations with protesters on the road outside each and every station?  Why not bow out now before you deepen the drivel holes of spin and lies that you have spun around your fracking proposals?

Jeremy Westgarth-Taylor

3 comments to A letter to shell. – Fracking in the Karoo

  • meh

    Check your spelling of gaurantee.

    And make sure you research (properly) both sides of the story. Also, think of the benefits of this venture on a nationwide scale.

    Just asking you to think beyond what you’ve read on activist’s sites.

  • Disgusted

    There is nothing wrong with the state of the Karoo now. The people are content with their way of life. Its the only way they know. I agree 100% with Jeremy Westgarth-Taylor. Also check our the documentary “Gasland”. Its about the aftermath of the fracking done in the states, where the residents’ drinking water have become so toxic it was flammable due to fracking. Where Shell had raped the land of their natural resources, paid desperate/poor farm/land-owners a handsome sum, so they can drill and had left without cleaning up the mess. They make lots of promises. Promises they couldn’t keep.We have to ask ourselves, are we next?

  • Stewart

    This is my letter to Shell:

    “I suggest Shell review their plan to carry out fracking in the Karoo – this action is very damaging to people and the environment. I – and many others – oppose it totally and will not tolerate it.

    I have begun a campaign to encourage others to boycott Shell products in South Africa, I will continue with this effort until I see Shell totally abandon this plan.”

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