Derek Light, a lawyer representing about 200 people against gas exploration in the Karoo, on Saturday told a public meeting that the process Shell and its consultants, Golder Associates, had been following, was unlawful.
He was speaking at a public gathering in Middelburg, in the Eastern Cape, called by Shell to discuss its proposed environmental management plan for exploration of 95 000 square km in the Karoo.
After the meeting farmer’s body Agri-SA agreed to work with Light to oppose Shell, should the energy minister give the company the go-ahead.
Concerns raised at the meeting included lack of public consultation, irregularities in Shell’s application to the Petroleum Agency of South Africa, Shell’s inability to guarantee it would not destroy underground water sources, piecemeal studies for the environmental management plan, and lack of detail around the chemicals Shell proposed using.
“According to law, Shell should have notified people and thoroughly informed them about its gas exploration so that, based on this information, they can comment. That didn’t happen,” Beeld quoted Light saying.
A senior company executive said earlier this month that Shell would use a safe technique not known to harm the environment. It intended releasing the gas by hydraulically fracturing rock, using water pumped deep underground.
“The oil and gas industry has used this technique safely for more than 60 years to recover natural gas,” general manager for new ventures and international exploration Graham Tiley said.