Afrikaans girl from the Karoo, Jolynn Minnaar, is making waves with her controversial new documentary about hydraulic fracking, Unearthed, – we get the inside scoop.
A key driving force initiating Unearthed in January 2011 was the need to address the paucity of information surrounding the proposed plans to explore the Karoo and broader regions for natural gas. Generally speaking, a lack of transparency from those pursuing gas development; poor communication from Government and limited research in the media left the public poorly informed, if, at all. As a result, interested and affected parties have been unable to access the necessary facts to stimulate and participate in productive discussion about the risks and benefits in exploring and, possibly producing, the country’s potential shale gas resources.
In seeking to remedy this, Unearthed has worked tirelessly over the past eight months to uncover the facts and examine all the various angles. The project is dedicated to an accurate, comprehensive study into the matter and, in doing so, providing a level-headed, informed voice in the various debates on natural gas, its development and potential use in South Africa’s energy future. During this investigation, Unearthed was privileged to spend five weeks on an intense fact-finding itinerary in the states of Colorado, Texas, Pennsylvania and New York.
On returning from the United States, armed with fresh, fine-tuned information and firsthand experience of gas development and the procedure of hydraulic fracturing, Unearthed is in an advanced position to further its commitment to empower the citizens of South Africa – whether residents in the Karoo, industry members or decision makers in government – with the results of a thorough, impartial investigation.
Unearthed is currently in its closing stages; one or two final interviews and trips to areas outlined for gas exploration followed by an intense round of editing and post-production. During the interim prior to release, as part of our commitment to disseminate information, please feel free to contact Unearthed if you have any queries – firstly, on the project itself but also, on the matter of shale gas development at large. Unearthed director, Jolynn Minnaar, has presented her findings at various meetings in South Africa and has aided numerous journalists, academic researchers and interested persons in investigating the array of complex issues surrounding the production of natural gas, both abroad and locally. Please address any questions to email@example.com
An update to this article available here
By Richard Clarke
Graaff-Reinet – Owing to the fact that South Africa has little or no history of gas extraction, let alone that of hydraulic fracturing, the fracking debate in South Africa is impeded by a lack of information, hands-on experience and case studies in comparison to the United States. Trying to find an expert on hydraulic fracturing in South Africa has therefore been like a hunt for a teardrop in a waterfall.
It is slowly changing but the fact remains that South Africa might just go in for this fracking gamble after only a few months of research in to the dangers and risks that hydraulic fracturing poses to people, water and the environment.
Director Jolynn Minnaar is looking at altering that imbalance and getting as much information out into the public domain as possible via her documentary, Unearthed. It has been in the pipeline for a while and Minnaar, born and bred in the Karoo, recently travelled to the United States to engage in an extended fact-finding mission around the intricacies of shale gas development.
“We need to stop using half-truths and get the full picture of what is going on with the plans to implement hydraulic fracturing here in South Africa. An obstacle to a comprehensive public debate around fracking issues and risks is the industry jargon which precludes most of the population from the discussion as they are unable to unpack the exact definitions of words and combinations of words used,” says Minnaar.
Minnaar also stressed that those opposing Shell and the other companies, should be lobbying to government, getting the relevant documentation and playing the field of legislation. Other questions raised by Minnaar included the moratorium on applications for exploration not having actually been officially gazetted and why the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs and Agriculture have been excluded from the task team carrying out the investigation.
The documentary is currently in post-production and Minnaar says that they are waiting on the decision from the government’s appointed task team before making the documentary available to the public. The inital target is starting in town halls, community centres and other venues across the Karoo.
The following statement places this documentary in the space between pro and anti-fracking sides and will make the project a welcome addition to the country’s debate on the topic in the future:
“Unearthed is proudly committed to its principles of thorough research and will continue to provide a platform whereupon all sides of the argument can be addressed.”
Director Jolynn Minnaar speaks on behalf of the Unearthed team in an interview with RSG radio in South Africa. She speaks briefly of her findings in the United States – the key interviews and experiences in and around the American shale gas industry – and how Unearthed is dedicated to bringing the facts home in order to aid productive discussion under the moratorium.