The civil rights and environmental protection organisations AfriForum and Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG) received an official commitment from Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden that Shell SA’s Country Chairman Hloniphizwe Mtolo will meet with them to discuss environmental, legal and economic concerns over fracking.
The recent commitment from Shell’s global CEO follows on an open letter addressed to, among others, Shell, Bundu Gas and Oil, Sunset Oil and Gas, Rhino Oil and Gas, Falcon Oil and Gas and the USA’s Secretary of Trade, Rick Perry.
Marcus Pawson, Head of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum, notes that none of the international companies other than Shell took the time to respond to AfriForum and the TKAG’s concerns over fracking. “This is indicative of the selfish views of these companies who appear determined to pursue fracking in South Africa on the basis of their shareholders’ interests. Africa has long suffered at the hands of international mining giants who are focused on investor benefit, with Nigeria perhaps the most topical example of the effect of petroleum extraction on the environment,” he says.
“We are unhappy with the way South African citizens are being treated by international oil companies. Only last week we were ignored by Shell when we requested the opportunity to hand our letter of concerns directly to a Shell representative, and were instead met by the SAPS to escort us away from Shell’s South African head office,” continued Pawson.
TKAG CEO, Jonathan Deal, emphasises that in the six years that TKAG has opposed fracking, he has found no reason to change his mind. The process remains water intensive and the pollution involved is dangerous to the health of surrounding communities. Furthermore, it doesn’t make economic sense as South Africa can source the gas elsewhere at much lower costs and without any of the risks posed to underground water, farming and tourism. It’s a non-starter and appears to be pushed by those who wants to and will indeed make a lot of money in the short-term at a great cost to the environment and local communities.
AfriForum and TKAG invite representatives from other organisations who wish to attend the meeting with Shell SA’s leadership to join them. Interested parties can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org in this regard.
Community members can support the anti-fracking campaign by sending an SMS with the word “fracking” to 45354 (R1).