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.”