Wednesday, March 30, 2011

To frack or not to frack?

I couldn't resist doctoring the photograph which Shell has been flooding South African newspapers with in recent months concerning it's plans to frack up the Karoo. These full-page ads included a scenic panorama of a section of the Karoo, along with the words, "Shell's commitments to the Karoo", while below was a nicely worded letter from Monang Mohale, who is apparently the country chiarman of Shell South Africa. In it, he says, inter alia, that "the Karoo is a special place for South Africans. We must preserve it for our future and our children's future". Then he proceeds to explain how over three years they would drill "up to 24 wells" if granted licences to explore for gas. However, I read elsewere that if given the go-ahead, the Karoo could be lumbered with literally hundreds, possibly thousands, of wells. So my picture is probably not that far off the mark. There is a growing groundswell of opposition to the "hydraulic fracturing", or fracking, process in the Karoo, for obvious reasons. Not only will it deface this vast, scenic heartland of South Africam, it also stands to use masses of water (in a near-desert environment) and to poison the underground water system. Browse through this blog and you'll see numerous sketches I have done over the years of Karoo scenery. At a time when solar and other renewable energy sources are crying out to be explored and exploited, Shell seems bent on delving for a fossil fuel which will only have very short-term use and benefit, primarily, its shareholders. That the South African government seems happy to go along with this travesty is mind-boggling. One wonders how many more pockets stand to be lined in Frackgate, a worthy successor to Armsgate, Travelgate and numerous other cases of state corruption over the past decade.

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