European environmental activists have warned that the oil and gas industry “cuts corners” when drilling for shale gas through hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
But once disaster occurred, the companies would blame locally outsourced suppliers.
Friends of the Earth activist Darek Urbaniak from Poland said this during a Thursday meeting with Barry Wuganaale, the newly-elected chairperson of the local anti-fracking organisation Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG). The TKAG is opposing proposed fracking in the Karoo.
Wuganaale took over the TKAG chair from Goldman Environmental Award winner Jonathan Deal, who is now the organisation’s director.
At the meeting, Urbaniak was accompanied by Dutch counterpart Geert Ritsema and Siziwe Khanyile, a campaigner at non-profit environmental organisation GroundWork South Africa.
Urbaniak and Ritsema were some of the global environmental activists who recently toured the Karoo to hear what locals thought of fracking.
Urbaniak warned that in Poland some multinational companies were “cutting corners” by buying cheap cement and manufacturing poor quality casings used in drilling for shale gas.
He said when something went wrong during the drilling process, the companies would then blame locally outsourced companies who supplied the cement or the casings.
Ritsema said the promised jobs provided by fracking could last for five years, but groundwater and the environment would be permanently harmed.
Wuganaale said his organisation welcomed international support and efforts should be made to make use of the platforms such as the Pan African Parliament to raise awareness against fracking in Africa.
He said they welcomed both local and international collaborations to deepen their anti-fracking campaign across the country and the globe.
Locally, he said there was a need to simplify the complex literature around fracking and translate it into local languages so that everyone could understand its consequences.
He highlighted the fact that the country’s Khoisan leadership agreed that they were opposed to fracking, at a conference in Graaff Reinet three weeks ago.
The conference delegates resolved that the Khoisan people would fight the issue of land dispossession along with fracking.
He said their campaign was an opportunity to work with farmers and unemployed people in the Karoo to protect the Karoo from shale gas mining and explore alternative ways to champion sustainable energy sources, jobs and agrarian land reform. - Francis Hweshe