Gregory Scott
Department of Environmental Affairs


This presentation will provide a summary of the involvement of the Department of Environmental Affairs in the development of regulatory tools and mechanisms for hydraulic fracturing. It must be noted at the outset that the Department of Environmental Affairs is but one of five ministries who are collaborating on this matter. Our involvement with hydraulic fracturing dates back to 2010 when Shell commenced with their application for exploration in terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (No. 28 of 2002). Although the water-related issues appear to be the primary environment-related concerns the Department has a specific interest in the following issues, i.e. biodiversity, air pollution, infrastructural impacts, greenhouse gas emissions and capacity constraints. In 2011 a decision was made by the Department of Mineral Resources to invoke a moratorium on licences for hydraulic fracturing in the Karoo. An Inter-Departmental Task Team on Shale Gas and Hydraulic Fracturing was convened and the major output of this group was the “Investigation of Hydraulic Fracturing in the Karoo Basin of South Africa” report. In September 2012 Cabinet approved the commencement of normal exploration, excluding hydraulic fracturing, and gave instruction for the constitution of Monitoring Committee that would review the adequacy of existing regulatory framework and where necessary make amendments or augmentations. The major output of this group was the “Proposed Technical Regulations for Petroleum Exploration and Exploitation” which were published for public comment on 15 October 2013. In addition to the work of the inter-departmental committees the Department of Environmental Affairs has embarked on a number of separate research initiatives relating to hydraulic fracturing. A carbon foot-printing project is currently looking at a range of scenarios relating to the greenhouse gas emissions profile associated with the life cycle of shale gas, and soon we will be undertaking a strategic environmental assessment of the Karoo region, with specific focus on hydraulic fracturing and astronomy activities.


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