In­sti­tute op­poses gas ex­trac­tion

Lesotho Times - - Business - Bereng Mpaki

THE Pol­icy Anal­y­sis and Re­search In­sti­tute of Lesotho (PARIL) has called on the coali­tion gov­ern­ment to shelve plans to prospect shale gas as this could cre­ate se­ri­ous en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems for the coun­try.

PARIL says the project should be dropped on the grounds that it vi­o­lates the coun­try’s min­ing and en­vi­ron­men­tal laws in that no en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact as­sess­ment (EIA) was con­ducted prior to the award­ing of ex­plo­ration rights to a pri­vate joint ven­ture.

The laws in ques­tion are Mines and Min­er­als Act 0f 2005 as well as the En­vi­ron­men­tal Act of 2008.

In April this year the Min­istry of Min­ing an­nounced it had signed a mem­o­ran­dum of agree­ment with Thaba Naledi En­ergy (MORADI (PTY) LTD I81/156 and Mr Brian Basil HAMBLETON JONES) for the first ever ex­plo­ration ad­ven­ture of shale gas in the coun­try.

In terms of the MOU, Thaba Naledi will map the ge­o­log­i­cal area, de­ter­mine the en­vi­ron­men­tal base­line, as­sess the amount of gas pro- duced, test and mon­i­tor ground wa­ter con­tam­i­na­tion and mon­i­tor po­ten­tial seis­mic in­ter­fer­ences.

Shale gas is nat­u­ral gas that is tightly locked within low per­me­abil­ity sed­i­men­tary rock. It is a source of en­ergy whose value has grown rapidly in re­cent years around the world. It can be used to pro­duce fuel and lubri­cants among oth­ers.

How­ever, in a pre­sen­ta­tion made at a re­cent Na­tional Con­fer­ence on Nat­u­ral Re­sources Gover­nance that was or­gan­ised by the Catholic Com­mis­sion for Jus­tice and Peace (CCJP), PARIL warned that hy­draulic frack­ing, which is the process em­ployed in the ex­trac­tion of the gas, could se­verely af­fect Lesotho’s ground wa­ter qual­ity and de­stroy its tourism prospects.

PARIL ar­gues that the neg­a­tive con­se­quences from min­ing the gas would neg­a­tively af­fect Lesotho’s po­ten­tial in de­vel­op­ing a wa­ter in­dus­try as well as di­min­ish­ing its at­trac­tive­ness due to the en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion as a con­se­quence of frack­ing.

Frack­ing is a com­mon tech­nique for stim­u­lat­ing the flow of oil and gas from shale de­posits that could not be eco­nom­i­cally ex­ploited us­ing con­ven­tional well tech­niques.

In in­dus­try terms, frack­ing (or hy­draulic frac­tur­ing) is of­ten used to re­fer only to the por­tion of the well-drilling process dur­ing which the bedrock is frac­tured.

Nu­mer­ous for­mu­la­tions of chem­i­cals are used in frack­ing fluid. How­ever, for­mu­la­tions are con­sid­ered pro­pri­etary and their com­po­nents are not dis­closed.

It is typ­i­cally 95% wa­ter, 4.5% sand or other prop­pant to keep frac­tures open and 0.5% chem­i­cals. How­ever, since it can take be­tween 15 and 25 mil­lion litres of wa­ter to frack a well, that can mean be­tween 70 and 125 tonnes of chem­i­cals in­jected into the ground per well. A well is fracked many a time which can lead to this process be­ing re­peated sev­eral times. Cu­bic Fill (TCF).

Speak­ing to Lesotho Times this week, PARIL Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor Lehlo­honolo Chefa said the past regime had mis­di­rected it­self in forg­ing ahead with the shale project

Con­tin­ues on page 18 . . .

PARIL Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor Lehlo­honolo Chefa

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