Is fracking a second arms deal scandal?

2014-03-11
Adv Anton Alberts

How much money will fracking in the Karoo bring to ANC pockets? Who are the companies that will be favoured and have contracts been signed with them already? And the big question: How much damage will the exploration of fossil fuels really cause to the Karoo? These are some of the key questions which remain unanswered and about which the ANC is keeping silent, Adv. Anton Alberts, the FF Plus’ parliamentary spokesperson on Energy says.

These are some of the key questions which remain unanswered and about which the ANC is keeping silent, Adv. Anton Alberts, the FF Plus' parliamentary spokesperson on Energy says.

Adv. Alberts says the facts on the table, as already published, indicates that fracking holds astronomical financial advantages for the ANC through their support for Shell in the project.

Shell’s empowerment partner is Thebe Investments which owns 12% of Shell SA Refining and 14% of Shell SA Marketing. Batho-Batho Trust owns 51% of Thebe. The ANC is the only beneficiary of Batho-Batho and will therefore gain direct financial advantages from the project.

Role players who oppose the project, such as Mr. Jonathan Deal, chairperson of the Treasure Karoo Action Group, confirmed these facts and said the potential for corruption is enormous.

He said everything points to the ANC government and a small group of companies being able to enrich themselves tremendously and that the money involved far outstrips the arms deal. According to Mr. Deal’s information, contracts are ready to be signed and some have possibly already been signed.

Adv. Alberts says it is disconcerting that the government is keeping all the role players in the dark and that the process, just as in the case with the E-Toll Act, could be steam rolled through parliament without the inputs of all the interest groups and without being transparent.

“In a perfect environment fracking would be an enormous risk. In South Africa with it scarce water resources and a government which places money above conservation, it could hold disastrous consequences.

“Expert research done by South African universities has already indicated that shale, or the rocks underneath which the contaminated liquids used in the exploration process will end up, is much more porous than in other countries where fracking is undertaken.

“An expert such as Prof. Gerrit van Tonder, hydrologist from the university of the Free State, warns that the area where fracking will take place, could be written off in future as a result of water and ground pollution. This could be compared to the damage that is caused by a nuclear bomb,” Adv. Anton Alberts says.

At this stage there is talk of approximately 600 000 ha in the Karoo being sacrificed for this purpose. It will produce gas for about 20 years. But what will happen thereafter? Will the money taps just be turned off after twenty years? “The government says it wants 20% of all fracking industries for free and that it could possibly decide to increase its interests to 50%. This alone could give the state more than R90 billion.

"The government says it wants 20% of all fracking industries free and that it could possibly decide to increase its interests to 50%. This alone could give the state more than R90 billion. 

This process was once again roughly steam rolled through leading to one inevitably drawing parallels with the multi-billion rand arms deal and the public cannot be blamed for seriously doubting the transparency of the process.

“Even at this stage it is shameless that the state has acknowledged that it is taking 20% of every license. This proves that the government is involved in this issue for its own interests and that it isn’t really about the interests of South Africa and its residents,” Adv. Alberts says.

He says what makes the issue more suspicious is the fact that there are much better alternatives in the form of clean energy and which in addition will create more jobs for every rand spent.

“The option of solar and wind energy are good examples, but are not even being considered. In Germany, nearly 50% of the country’s energy is generated in this manner.

“The FF Plus is opposed to the process and will in every way possible, together with other interest groups, oppose it,” Adv. Alberts said.

 

 

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