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Agri SA launches shale gas court proceedings / Agri SA loods skaliegas hofgeding

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Agri SA can announce today that we launched court proceedings in the Pretoria High Court against the granting of environmental authorisations and exploration rights for shale gas to Rhino Oil & Gas on 16 April 2019. This is after Agri SA received confirmation that the court papers have been served on all respondents.

In 2018 Rhino Oil & Gas obtained environmental authorisation to conduct aerial exploration activities for petroleum over large parts of the North West, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape provinces. In January this year, the Petroleum Agency of South Africa granted exploration rights to Rhino Oil & Gas with respect to its North West, Free State and Eastern Cape exploration areas. The KwaZulu-Natal application is currently the subject of the Supreme Court of Appeal proceedings brought by Agri SA’s affiliate organisation in that province, Kwanalu.

Although the authorised exploration activities by Rhino Oil & Gas will not entail actual drilling, the current legal dispensation in relation to oil and gas in South Africa affords holders of exploration rights the exclusive and automatic entitlement to apply for and be granted full-scale production rights, should exploration indicate the presence of viable oil or gas reserves. This means that interest bodies, such as Agri SA, must resort to the courts from the outset to prevent hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for shale gas from taking root in South Africa.

“In the absence of satisfactory information about the availability and treatment of water to sustain a fracking and shale gas industry in South Africa, Agri SA cannot support government’s apparent appetite for a full-scale gas industry in this country” says Janse Rabie, Agri SA’s Head of Natural Resources. “South Africa is already a highly water-stressed country. Agri SA is of the view that government is simply not nearly cautious enough when it comes to shale gas”.

Moreover, aerial and seismic survey techniques are not entirely non-invasive. Privacy issues and particularly the effect of surveys being conducted in areas used for traditional religious and customary purposes, stand to be materially affected and do not appear to have been considered in the granting of the environmental authorisations in this instance.

Agri SA kan vandag aankondig dat ons op 16 April 2019 ’n hofgeding in die Pretoria hoërhof teen die toekenning van omgewingsmagtiging en eksplorasieregte vir skaliegas aan Rhino Oil & Gas geloods het. Dit is na Agri SA bevestiging gekry het dat die hofstukke verlede week op al die respondente beteken is.

In 2018 het Rhino Oil & Gas omgewingsmagtiging verkry om by wyse van lugvaart-tegnieke eksplorasie vir gas oor groot gedeeltes van Noordwes, Vrystaat, KwaZulu-Natal en die Oos-Kaap te doen. In Januarie vanjaar het die Petroleum Agentskap van Suid-Afrika eksplorasie-regte aan Rhino Oil & Gas vir sy Noordwes, Vrystaat en Oos-Kaap eksplorasie gebiede toegeken. Die aansoek om die KwaZulu-Natalse gebied word tans in die Appèlhof deur Agri SA se affiliaal organisasie in daardie provinsie, Kwanalu betwis.

Hoewel Rhino Oil & Gas se gemagtigde eksplorasie aktiwiteite nie daadwerklike boorwerk sal behels nie, hou die huidige regsbestel in Suid-Afrika met betrekking tot olie en gas in dat houers van eksplorasieregte die eksklusiewe en outomatiese reg bekom om vir volskaalse produksieregte aansoek te doen en dit te verkry, sou die eksplorasie aktiwiteite die aanwesigheid van lewensvatbare olie- of gasbronne aandui. Dit beteken dat belange organisasies, soos Agri SA, van die begin af hulself moet wend tot die howe ten einde te verseker dat hidrouliese breking (fracking) vir skaliegas nie in Suid-Afrika uitgerol word nie.

“Sonder die nodige bevredigende inligting omtrent die beskikbaarheid en behandeling van water om ’n hidrouliese breking en skaliegas industrie in Suid-Afrika te onderhou nie, kan Agri SA nie die regering se oënskynlike aptyt vir ’n gas industrie in hierdie land ondersteun nie,” sê Janse Rabie, Agri SA Beleidshoof: Natuurlike Hulpbronne. “Suid-Afrika is alreeds ’n land waar water ’n baie skaars hulpbron is. Agri SA is van mening dat die regering nie naastenby versigtig genoeg is wanneer dit kom by die moontlike effek van skaliegasontginning nie.”

 Lugvaart- en seismiese opname-tegnieke kan boonop teen privaatheidsregte indruis. Kwessies oor privaatheid en veral die aanwending van lugvaartopnames in gebiede wat vir tradisionele geloofs- en kulturele praktyke gebruik word, kan wesenlik beïnvloed word en is skynbaar nie in ag geneem in die toestaan van die omgewingsmagtigings in hierdie geval nie.