Programme Director: Mr Selwyn Adams
Acting Mayor of Beaufort West Local Municipality, Mrs A.M Slabbert
Executive Mayor of Central Karoo District Municipality, Mr Noel Constable
Deputy Mayor of the Central Karoo District Municipality, Ms M. Japhta
Representatives of DMR SOE’s present today
Members of religious fraternal
Beaufort west and surrounding communities
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
It gives me great pleasure to be here today in the “Capital of the Karoo" as we engage with the community of Beaufort West and surrounding areas on a very significant matter of shale gas also known as hydraulic fracking.
With an almost unnaturally bright and startling blue sky and the most amazing landscapes with nature at its best, the Beaufort West Region boasts a healthy climate and beautiful weather all year around. The endless horizon which will give you the feeling of complete isolation from the rest of the world. With no cellphone reception in some areas you can almost touch the silence! A feeling of inner peace and relaxation that will recharge your senses. They say, the Karoo is the place where you can hear God think.
In the next two days the country would be celebrating our Freedom Day, 27th April 2017, which marks the end of over three hundred years of colonialism, segregation and white minority rule and the inauguration of a democratic dispensation in our country.
This is a time to reflect as a country on the strides we have made in achieving the vision of a better life for all. Undoubtedly, much has changed since 1994 and there has been progress in every sphere of society, but we are aware that more must still be done.
Please allow me to quote one of the foremost black activists of our time, Martin Luther King Junior, who said, “If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward”. As a government we will keep moving forward to serve our community.
Ladies and gentlemen.
South Africa is one of the most sophisticated and promising emerging markets globally, mainly because of abundant natural resources and exploration prospects. Following the United States Energy Information Administration (UEIA), Council for Geoscience and Petroleum Agency South Africa estimated technically recoverable resource of gas in the Karoo Basin, the South African government took a decision to pursue the development of shale gas. This is based on the evaluation of prospective shale gas occurrences discovered in the sedimentary rocks of the Karoo.
When shale gas was discovered few years ago, concerns regarding possible implications of this resource were raised. Government ensured that before the processing of any applications, a socio-economic and environmental assessment of shale gas development was conducted. This was necessary to enable a process of data and information collection for informed decision-making on shale gas development. Based on the balance of available scientific evidence, government took a decision to proceed with the development of shale gas in the Karoo formation of South Africa.
This initiative is in line with the objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP), which defines a fabric of society we aspire to achieve by 2030. Since 2004, we have introduced major regulatory reforms, which marked a significant shift from private ownership of mineral and petroleum resources to custodianship by the State, on behalf of the people of South Africa.
The State exercised its right to govern the development of these resources and to ensure that it optimises their development in an orderly manner that benefits the people of the country.
We are here to share with you information on the importance and benefits of developing the gas resources, and we also listen to your concerns as the communities where this resource could potentially be found. It is also in our interest to see all the people of South Africa benefiting both socially and economically from the mineral wealth of our country.
Many parts of Africa have long been known to be rich in mineral resources, particularly those in southern and western Africa, which rank among the top ten sources for at least one major mineral.
South Africa in particular has a majority of the world’s known resources such as platinum, chromium, manganese and zircon. The development of these resources has faced challenges, especially, when compared with the experience of other mineral-rich countries, such as Australia or Chile.
Infrastructure problems, for instance, seem to be the major constraints to development of our mineral resources, particularly bulk mineral deposits which require multibillion-dollar investments in rail and port facilities to allow ores to be transported to overseas markets.
South Africa has identified the pillars of sustainable development with respect to the country’s mining industry, within the context of global competitiveness and transformation, which are the major determinants of success, given the prevailing circumstances in mining in South Africa. Mining in nature disrupts the environment through the extraction of ore, resulting in increased levels of pollution and social impacts. This underpins the need to manage and protect the environment and contribute to human welfare today.
The country’s Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) of 2002, makes provision towards mine environmental management adopting the cradle-to-grave approach in prospecting and mining activities whilst ensuring a balance of economic, social and environmental costs. Growth of the mining industry requires optimum and environmentally sustainable exploitation of the resources, with a balance between cost-effective, competitive mining and protection of the environment. The finalization of Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) amendments will also help to expedite the development of shale gas.
The South African Government has augmented the regulatory framework to ensure that the exploration of shale gas resources is orderly and safely developed through technology called hydraulic fracturing. Government has taken comprehensive measures to alleviate the risk associated with the development of shale gas. The publication of Regulations for Petroleum Exploration and Production as well as the Karoo Deep Drilling study being undertaken by the Council for Geoscience (CGS) in collaboration with the Petroleum Agency South Africa (PASA), constitute some of these measures.
An environmental scan reveals that there is little knowledge among South Africans on the process of hydraulic fracturing. Efforts that were undertaken by Government in order to ensure that the resource is developed in an environmentally sustainable manner are also not well-known, including where water resources to undertake hydraulic fracturing will be sourced.
Currently, there is a limited understanding of what economic benefits could accrue to the country should Government pursue hydraulic fracturing for shale gas. There is a small, vocal group opposing Government pursuing this option, and they are beginning to dominate the public space.
As I conclude, remember the success of this initiative depend on you, the South African community and it is expected to create direct and indirect employment opportunities and contribute meaningfully to the country’s GDP. We are positive that this new industry will contribute to the economic development of the Karoo. Its legacy of infrastructure such as roads, water and sanitation, new industries, etc. will be enjoyed by many generations to come.
I thank you.