Fracking: Shell admits safety is not a given

22 August 2011 - 02:44 By GUY ROGERS
A protest march against fracking in the Karoo. File picture
A protest march against fracking in the Karoo. File picture

The petroleum company heading calls for the Great Karoo to be opened up for exploration for natural gas has admitted that it cannot guarantee the safety of its operations.

This concession by Shell SA boss Jan Willem Eggink was made as the findings of a UN investigation of oil-industry pollution in Nigeria, with particular reference to the culpability of Shell, were released.

Shell wants to explore the Karoo for natural gas and recover it using hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking".

In fracking, shale several kilometres beneath the surface is ruptured to release tightly bound gas.

Fracking has been outlawed elsewhere in the world because it has been shown to pollute ground water reserves.

At a dinner in Port Elizabeth last week, Eggink said that though Shell could not guarantee the integrity of its well casings when fracking, an accident would be simple to clean up

"If things are done properly, there should not be problems ... [but that] doesn't mean there couldn't be," said Eggink.

"It's a point zero zero zero possibility ... if it were such a small chance, would you not consider going ahead?" he said.

Shell has applied to explore for gas across a 90000ha swathe of the Karoo.

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