Institute opposes gas extraction
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
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PARIL Executive Director Lehlohonolo Chefa