Shale gas mining is a process that applies the technique of high-volume, horizontal, slick-water fracturing (‘fracking’ or ‘hydraulic fracturing’). It involves pumping water, sand and chemicals into horizontally drilled wells, under hydraulic pressure to fracture the underground shale layers and release gas.

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Press Release

"Environmental groups ready to oppose fracking" March 9, 2016

After more than five years since the issue of shale gas mining surfaced in South Africa, no licenses have yet been granted for exploration rights. In a recent update the Petroleum Agency of South Africa (PASA), indicated that the organisation will be making recommendations to the Minister of Mineral Resources on the applications for exploration by Falcon Oil & Gas and Bundu Oil and Gas. Government sources have claimed that exploration may start within the next 12 months.

A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) on shale gas announced in May 2015, and only expected to be finalised in 2017, was welcomed by South Africans and civil society groups. The role of the SEA is amongst other things, to gather information, identify gaps in knowledge and inform shale gas regulations. The finalised shale gas regulations published in June of 2015, well ahead of the results of the SEA, have widely been criticised on a number of material fronts. 

In November 2015, Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) and AfriForum moved against the Ministers of Minerals and Environment, their respective departments and some officials in a challenge to the validity of the regulations. The Department of Mineral Resources have indicated that they would be opposing the application.

Responding to media queries today, Jonathan Deal, CEO of TKAG said “In the last five years I’ve heard this promise from various Ministers to various audiences at different forums. And so far, every time it has been clear that the promise is issued in the face of serious obstacles. I see nothing different now”.

“The government appears to have forgotten that there is a High Court challenge to the intrinsic suitability of a patently flawed set of regulations, and that until that matter is properly settled within the realm of legal options at our disposal, any licences authorizing exploration will be urgently challenged in the appropriate forum.”
“To be clear, the AfriForum/TKAG alliance will not stand aside on this issue until it has been dealt with as envisaged in all applicable laws and tested against the Constitution. “

In closing Deal remarked that apart from anything else to do with fracking, the critical drought affecting millions of South Africans should be a very strong reason for the government to completely avoid any mining operation that could damage even one water source.


"AfriForum and TKAG to challenge fracking regulations in court" November 27, 2015

AfriForum and Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG) have submitted documentation at the North Gauteng High Court, challenging the regulations with regard to petroleum exploration and production. The regulations were promulgated on 3 June 2015 and are widely known as the “regulations on fracking” – referring to the process of extracting gas from deep shale deposits.

The CEO of TKAG, Jonathan Deal, summed up the advocacy group’s view as follows: “The regulations are wholly inappropriate for the purposes of regulating a technology such as fracking. There are also other material irregularities intrinsic to the regulations and these issues would emerge in court. On that basis, any licences or permits issued pursuant to the regulations may themselves be flawed.”

Julius Kleynhans, AfriForum’s Head of Environmental Affairs, confirmed that letters written to the Department of Minerals by both organisations over the course of 2014 and 2015 had gone unanswered and attempts to secure a meeting with the newly appointed Minister of Minerals, Mosebenzi Zwane, had proved fruitless. “AfriForum’s focus is directed towards the interests of ordinary people. Water supplies for domestic consumption and food production in South Africa are at a tipping point – we cannot stand by and watch as a risky and economically uncertain technology is authorised – with potentially disastrous results for the environment,” said Kleynhans.

The Department of Minerals, with the clear backing of President Zuma, has on numerous occasions promised to issue exploration licences to various applicants, including Shell SA, Challenger Energy of Australia and Falcon Oil & Gas, by the end of 2015.

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"National fracking opposition gains momentum" November 11, 2015

Significant developments in the discourse on fracking have been unfolding in recent weeks. The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) on shale gas mining is well under way and a Zero Order Draft (ZOD) document for the assessment has been released for public comments. Public briefing sessions in connection with the SEA are to be held across South Africa in November.

Meanwhile the national debate on fracking has gained further momentum following public meetings on gas exploration applications in the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal. Texas based Rhino Oil and Gas has applied for exploration rights over vast tracts of KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State. Public meetings were generally well attended and feisty, with landowners and conservationists raising sharp objections to the project. The applications fall within areas of strategic agricultural value and important catchment areas at a time when certain provinces in South Africa, including KwaZulu-Natal, are being declared disaster areas due to the drought conditions currently gripping the country.

Several organisations have joined the recently established national alliance against fracking – Frack Free South Africa.

“The upsurge in public opposition to onshore oil and gas drilling across South Africa cannot be ignored. When TKAG started its campaign to raise awareness of the issue of shale gas mining in the Karoo in 2011, we predicted that applications would start to affect other regions of South Africa too. TKAG supports the efforts of communities and organisations across South Africa to ensure a fair process and outcome on the applications. We do, however, urge all groups to ensure that their strategy is aimed at lobbying Government for change. While the SEA on shale gas mining in the Karoo is an enormous win for the national campaign, similar assessments are required for other regions affected by oil and gas applications,” said Jonathan Deal, CEO of Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG).

“It would appear that new applicants are trying to side-step the legal issues facing fracking by applying for a more general exploration right – simply for ‘petroleum’. Communities in KZN and the FS must be on guard against this. It is common knowledge that Soekor spent years drilling deep holes in the 1960s and found no oil. At that time they weren’t interested in the potential of shale gas. TKAG sees the new, smarter applications as a Trojan horse to get in and get drilling without mentioning shale gas. South Africans must grasp the opportunity to participate in the SEA hearings and raise relevant issues,” explained Deal.

“The timing and the imminence of exploration rights expected to be granted in the light of the water crisis has made it an issue that has become as important to a farmer in the Karoo as to a businessman in Sandton. The letters and requests submitted to Government by TKAG and AfriForum have been ignored and the alliance is preparing for an imminent court action,” added Julius Kleynhans, AfriForum’s Head of Environmental Affairs.

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Link to SEA public meetings:

"Shale gas alliance draws a line with SA government" August 17, 2015

The AfriForum/TKAG (Treasure the Karoo Action Group) alliance has served Ngoako Ramathlodi, Minister of Mineral Resources, with a letter demanding specific undertakings and action from the Department.

Key to the letter, which clearly outlines the concerns of the alliance, are among other things the following demands – each of which requires a written undertaking or other definite action by the Minister:

·         A moratorium prohibiting the submission, consideration and issuing of exploration licences and rights prior to the finalisation of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) reports, or alternatively, that the consideration and issuing of exploration licences and rights will be halted pending the finalisation of the SEA and ASSAf reports.

·         Amendment or suspension of the current fracking regulations until such time as the public has been adequately involved in the legislative process and the contents of the SEA have been considered.

·         That the Minister of Mineral Resources will not accept or consider any application or issue any rights for exploration or production to Shell SA or any subsidiary as long as the Batho Batho trust has any interest in Shell SA, either directly or indirectly, and that the Minister will not issue any mineral prospecting or mining licence or right and petroleum exploration or production licence or right to any company in which any political party either directly or indirectly holds an interest.

·         That the Minister of Mineral Resources will consider or cause to be considered the contents of the Canadian and New York reports and provide the alliance with written proof of such consideration within two years. (The Canadian and New York reports stand up to international scientific scrutiny and are unequivocal in their view that fracking holds significant risk to the environment, water and community health. The NY report also decisively questions the claimed economic benefits of fracking.)

·         That the Minister of Mineral Resources will not accept any applications for petroleum exploration or production licences or rights prior to the determination of the resources required to monitor petroleum exploration and production activities and enforce environmental and other legislation applicable thereto.

Explaining the rationale behind the letter of demand, TKAG leader Jonathan Deal said that it was necessary for the alliance to institute this action because President Zuma, various ministers in the Presidency and the DMR have repeatedly confirmed to the media and stakeholders that exploration licences will be granted to the applicants during 2015.

“No one can deny that a vast body of evidence in support of a cautionary approach has developed outside South Africa. The Minister of Environmental Affairs has commissioned the CSIR to conduct a broad and multidisciplinary Strategic Environmental Assessment of all aspects of shale gas mining. The alliance is formally involved in the monitoring of this process, which has already commenced, and we are optimistic that this will be a thorough scientific exercise that will properly inform our government in the appropriate and responsible formulation of policy.” Deal is due to speak on 18 August at the annual congress of the Vroue Landbouvereniging van Kaapland in Cradock and will outline the alliance’s plans to the delegates.

Continuing, Deal reasoned: “As it stands at present, there is no impediment to the DMR in terms of issuing licences for shale gas exploration in South Africa before the country has properly considered all the issues and complied with the obligations inherent in the laws of the country and our Bill of Rights. An example of one single concern is that although the scale of exploration is smaller than that of production, the same intrinsic risks to water, the environment and community health are presented. Moreover, exploration activities will at some point require the use of fracking. The alliance has thoroughly researched its case, and we can find no reason to be silent or to fail to act at this time.”

AfriForum's Head of Environmental Affairs, Julius Kleynhans, confirmed that a specialist legal team had been briefed. “AfriForum has a well-deserved reputation for ensuring that Government operates within the law and the tenets of the Bill of Rights. On the basis of statements and action by Government we are convinced that Government has violated certain laws, and is on the point of committing further violations of legal and Constitutional obligations. It is within our mandate to facilitate the rectification of breaches and to take action to prevent further breaches. The question of shale gas mining in this country is not an issue that should be agreed by a cosy compact between the applicants for licences and our country’s leaders.”

International developments

Meanwhile, a new report by Trillium Asset Management revealed that California’s public pension funds incurred a significant loss of over $5 billion during the past year due to their holdings in the top 200 fossil fuel companies.

A report by Reuters revealed that despite the hype around shale oil, it currently provides in only one twentieth of global oil demand, which leads to questions regarding the rationale for the scale of global attention on shale oil.

Last week, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality announced that Shell accidentally spilled 326 166 pounds of butadiene, which escaped through an open valve on a tank at the Shell Oil facility in Deer Park.

"US fracking companies in debt turmoil" July 24, 2015

During the first half of 2015, US shale drillers increased new debt and equity offerings by $44 billion – more than during any half year period since 2007. The deep trouble in the shale drilling sector is well illustrated by the financial woes of Chesapeake Energy – the second largest driller in the US, whose shares crashed 10% on July 21st.  Chesapeake has been dumping its assets as fast as it can in a battle to stay alive.

According to Bloomberg, Chesapeake has been cash-flow negative in 22 of the past 24 years. Between 2006 and 2011, the company sold whole or partial shale play interests for $17.9 billion.  5 buyers were foreign, and included Total, BP, Statoil, and BHP. From these transactions BHP and BP took a $2.84 and $2.1 billion write-down respectively.

Royal Dutch Shell began dumping its shale assets in the US in September 2013, after taking a $2.1 billion write-down. According to outgoing Shell chief, Peter Voser, his biggest regret was getting involved in US shale.

The current financial woes extend across the board to smaller and medium-sized companies too:

·         Quicksilver Resources filed for bankruptcy in March – $2.35 billion in debt; $1.21 billion in assets.

·         Samson Resources – acquired by a group of private equity firms in 2011 for $7.2 billion, has lost over $3 billion to date.

·         Halcon Resources Corp. has narrowly avoided trouble with its banks in June 2013, March 2014 and February 2015. It’s estimated by Standard & Poor that if Halcon doesn’t survive the next redetermination of its credit lines, due October 2015, its unsecured bondholders might get, at most, 10% of the nearly $2.6 billion they’re owed. 

“These figures are the tip of the iceberg for the shale drilling industry. It’s plain to see that if the US banks cut the credit lines they will probably push the drillers into bankruptcy – and that if they don’t, they will be throwing more money after junk assets. When the big names can’t make a profit in a country where everything is stacked in favour of shale gas, how does one expect that they can come to a difficult operating environment like South Africa and get it right?” This is the view of TKAG leader, Jonathan Deal.

“And there’s no place to hide behind the recent crash in crude oil prices – Shell, BP and BHP collectively wrote off more than $7 billion in the two years 2011-2013, and Chesapeake has posted a positive cash flow in only 2 of the last 24 years.”

“Perhaps the most relevant warning to disbelieve oil industry hype, is how President Obama was convinced in January 2012 to tell the US in his State of the Union address that there was close to 100 years of energy from natural gas in the US – a claim that he would not likely repeat today, after the infamous 18 billion barrels of shale oil from the Monterey Shale was cut by 96% following a re-evaluation of the fields by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) in May of 2014. This [the EIA] is the same organisation that contributed to the 485 trillion cubic feet figure for South Africa’s so called shale gas reserves – reserves which are now in SA, are reduced by more sober minds to at best 30tcf.”

According to Julius Kleynhans, AfriForum’s head of Environmental Affairs, the oil and gas industry is awash in a sea of debt, fuelled by wild speculation and unlikely claims of great wealth for investors and countries. “As the pro-shale rhetoric in the US is exposed for the body of lies that it is, countries that have not yet gambled on this Pandora’s box are given another chance to avoid the same trap. Will South Africa step around it or into it?” said Kleynhans.

Meanwhile, the claim that US growth in shale gas consumption is primarily responsible for the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in that country between 2007 and 2009 has been rubbished. A new study asserts that the estimated 10% drop in GHG emissions are linked to the economic recession during the same period. In an interview with BBC, the lead author of the report, Professor Hubacek stated “the other question is what happens with the coal that the gas displaces - if you take it out of the ground, it’s going to be used somewhere. The whole gas story doesn't make a difference…if you want a low carbon future, then why don't you focus on low carbon stuff rather than investing in the wrong alternative which is in my mind, gas.”


"On both sides of the Atlantic, fracking gets a thumbs-down" July 3, 2015

A megastate in the US and a small town council in the UK have reached the same conclusion about fracking. The refusal of a drilling permit for an exploration well in the town of Little Plumpton in Lancashire (UK) has been described by one of the councillors as “one of the biggest planning decisions ever” made by the council. Councillors voted 10-4 in favour of rejecting the application.

The decision was made after significant public backlash and consideration of evidence presented to the council. A similar application in the nearby town of Roseacre Wood was also rejected. This decision flies in the face of enormous pressure from the push of British Prime Minister David Cameron to get fracking going in England.

In New York, after seven years of intensive research into the potential implications of shale gas mining in the State and an initial moratorium instituted in 2008, fracking was officially banned in the State on 29 June 2015.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner, Joe Martens said: “After years of exhaustive research and examination of the science and facts, prohibiting high-volume hydraulic fracturing is the only reasonable alternative. High-volume hydraulic fracturing poses significant adverse impacts to land, air, water, natural resources and potential significant public health impacts that cannot be adequately mitigated. This decision is consistent with the DEC’s mission to conserve, improve and protect our State’s natural resources, and to enhance the health, safety and welfare of the people of the State.”

The State of Maryland also declared a moratorium earlier in June.

Leader of Karoo advocacy group, Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG), Jonathan Deal, said: “These jurisdictions are joining more than a hundred others that have come to the same conclusion. Shale gas mining poses documented environmental and financial risk on a large scale. The process of fracking, in even the most favourable financial and geological environments, has failed to deliver the sustainable financial, job and energy benefits promised by its backers. It is daily being exposed as a disastrous alternative to gas from more conventional sources.

“When the leaders of communities numbering tens of millions formally ban fracking, it is surely a very strong encouragement for other leaders in all countries to take notice. America is an energy‑ and job-hungry country too, and they are equipped to use gas without delay. The fact that these states reject fracking as a source of energy is a warning that should be taken seriously.

“President Obama was ill-informed when he stated in January 2012 that America had 100 years of energy from so-called natural gas, and President Zuma has twice stepped into the same trap by rashly calling shale gas an economic game changer for South Africa.

“If fracking is let loose in South Africa, by the time that the results are evident, Mr Zuma will no longer be president and he won’t have to face the music to answer for a decision that essentially favours Shell and defies science. It’s not a game changer, it’s a modern Pandora’s box waiting to be opened.”

Julius Kleynhans, Head of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum concurred: “A comparison between the discourse in South Africa and New York bears a striking contrast. It is clear that South Africa has not taken the documented risks associated with shale gas mining as seriously as New York. New York also adopted a significantly more open and inclusive approach to the process, involving the public throughout the investigation. We are only starting to see this attitude coming through in the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) on shale gas. Without the findings, recommendations and identification of information gaps expected to flow from the SEA, it would be impossible for our government to make a justifiable decision on favour of proceeding with shale gas exploration.”

“TKAG and AfriForum are monitoring developments in South Africa closely and we will respond appropriately at the right time,” Kleynhans concluded.


New York:

"Published fracking regulations inadequate"" June 8, 2015

‘Department of Minerals tows the Zuma line’

In an unsurprising move, the final regulations on ‘petroleum exploration and production’, which encompass shale gas exploration and hydraulic fracturing, have been published in the government gazette. Draft regulations were initially published in October 2013.

“Having regard for the fact that Jacob Zuma has in two State of the Nation addresses, told South Africa that ‘shale gas will be a game changer’ it is hardly surprising that his acolytes will follow through, giving effect to his premature and ill-considered declarations,” said TKAG leader, Jonathan Deal.

Industry based rules

“The position of TKAG (Treasure Karoo Action Group), has been and is, that regulations must be based on a broad and specialised scientific platform. These regulations, although displaying some effort to address shortcomings, remain largely inadequate to control an activity which presents the intrinsic risk allied to shale gas exploration and production. It is well established that the regulations were developed from a set of standards published by the American Petroleum Institute – an industry-funded group in the United States. Regulations designed by the oil and gas industry itself will focus on keeping costs down at the expense of environment and community.” TKAG will publish by June 12th, an analysis of the regulations with comment on some of the areas of concern. This will be available for download off the website

Not waiting for South African Scientists to speak

“While the Department of Environmental Affairs heads up a two-year strategic environmental assessment (SEA) into fracking in South Africa, the Department of Minerals is rolling forward with its plans to issue exploration licences before the results of the SEA are released. This is counter-intuitive and ignores precedent in the United States and other countries, where full investigations have preceded the granting of even exploration permits.”

Absent public consultation

“The lawful requirement of public consultation appears to have been overlooked by the Department of Minerals as have repeated promises and commitments from senior officials of the Department to conduct appropriate consultation. Many communities living in the Karoo are still factually uninformed and thus unaware of the potential implications of shale gas mining on their livelihoods. We also believe that public consultation could have contributed significantly to the overall value of the regulations.”

Meanwhile Shell again shows it’s true colours

Giving effect to the untruth (March 15) that the global mining giant’s fracking team was leaving South Africa, Shell will tonight be hosting a meeting in Cradock on its fracking plans. According to the company, Jan-Willem Eggink, head of ‘Upstream’ in South Africa will be present. (Business Times was told that Jan-Willem Eggink - whom Shell sent to South Africa from Libya to monitor South Africa's shale gas opportunity - would be pulled out of the country in coming weeks. Other highly skilled staff would follow him.’)

"New York State fracking report critical to South Africa’s shale assessment" May 19, 2015

"New York State fracking report critical to South Africa’s shale assessment" May 19, 2015

"Department of Environmental Affairs launches study on fracking" May 12, 2015

The Minister of Environmental Affairs today announced the launch of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) on shale gas. Also present were representatives from the Departments of Water and Sanitation, Science and Technology, Energy and Mineral Resources.

The SEA is expected to address exploration and production related activities of shale gas development across different scenarios in a holistic and integrated manner and will include an assessment of all the material social, economic and biophysical risks and opportunities associated with the industry.

The Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and the Council for Geosciences (CGS) will play an integral role in the completion of the assessment.

Responding to the announcement, Jonathan Deal, CEO of Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) stated “We are most encouraged by this development. A SEA is a fundamental step in the appropriate evaluation of shale gas in South Africa, and it is a process for which for which we have been calling since 2011. TKAG will be involved in the process and it intends to use every opportunity to play a pivotal role – from defining terms of reference, to placing specific data in front of the assessors in an effort to ensure that government policy is informed by science.

Provided that this absolutely critical step is holistically managed in an inclusive and scientific manner and that the outcome of the process is permitted to precede government decisions to commit (or not) to shale gas, we look forward to and tender our resources and energy to contribute in a positive manner.

Because there are a myriad of loopholes, shortcomings and general issues related to the current legal framework for shale gas mining, such as the extent of uncertainty around several of the potential impacts, TKAG is of the view that authorisations for exploration should not precede the signing off of the SEA.

The SEA must inject a crucial scientific dimension to the decision-making process and play a significant role in driving the outcome of policy, legislation, regulations and indeed the final decision in connection with fracking.

"South Africa might have to choose between water and gas" May 7, 2015

“When it comes down to drinking water or burning gas, I can’t think of a single person who can do without water.” This is the view of Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) CEO Jonathan Deal to a report from the University of Pretoria’s Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation. In an analysis piece that appeared on 5 May 2015 in Business Day, Prof. Lorenzo Fioramonti, director of the Centre wrote that South Africa could [almost certainly will] be facing significant water shortages by 2020.

Prof. Fioramonti stated that the looming water crisis might dwarf the current electricity crisis and that three main factors are to blame, namely resource depletion (and contamination), the growing demand for water and inefficient and ageing infrastructure. A decrease in rainfall in many parts of the country as a result of climate change may further exacerbate the problem. He criticised the way in which the South African economy treats water as it constantly demands more, while at the same time depletes and contaminates existing resources.

National cost and budget

The article referenced a recent government report which estimated the costs involved in preventing a full-scale water crisis in the next four years at almost R300 billion, roughly more than 100 times the budget allocated by the Treasury to water management nationwide.

Shale gas and water

This warning was issued around the same time as yet another study emerged from the United States that questioned the safety of shale gas mining and the long-term integrity of well casings. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America by a research team from Pennsylvania State University claimed that traces of chemical compounds detected in drinking water may have migrated laterally from deeper to shallower depths followinbg shale gas drilling in the region.

Deal argued that “The government’s indecent rush to licence shale gas exploration and ultimately full scale production illustrates that not only has it ignored the recent global developments in the rejection of shale gas, but that it is prepared to gamble with South Africans’ water supplies in a bid to escape the energy and employment mess facing it. Not only is this disingenuous but it flies in the face of the duty of elected officials to serve the best interests of the people.  Fracking is rapidly becoming an international pariah and if it is let loose in SA, those who were instrumental in such a blunder will find no place to hide from the people.”

"Scepticism on shale gas mounts" April 15, 2015

On the heels of groundbreaking developments last month with the announcement from the US Department of Energy that “shale won’t last beyond the next decade”, comes an article from the US (April 11) by Robert Weiner and Hannah Coombs, supporting views on the high rate of depletion of gas wells and pointing to the significant number of wells that must be drilled, at enormous cost, just to stay ahead of the decline curve. Stating that “We will be dancing to the joy of cheap oil prices until the wells are drilled dry — which could be as soon as five years — and could be facing earthquakes and drinking polluted ground water until then,” the authors reference various authoritative sources such as Drillinginfo and Prof. David Hughes, to support their viewpoint. 

Robert Weiner is a former spokesman for the White House and House Government Operations Committee and was a Chief of Staff for Rep. Claude Pepper, among other senior positions that he held. Hannah Coombs is Policy Analyst at Robert Weiner Associates.

The article refers to new US regulations for the drilling industry that are expected to be implemented in June 2015.

TKAG leader, Jonathan Deal, remarked that he had observed a definite increase in scepticism amongst government officials, academia and the informed public when it came to accepting the figures of jobs, energy and money promised by the oil and gas industry. The industry has a well deserved reputation for overstating, actually lying, about benefits and simultaneously trivializing risk. “They do things like talking about fracking chemicals having some of the same ingredients as toothpaste and ice-cream – and while this is quite true, any informed person knows that fracking fluid is a potentially deadly concoction that no one would want in their toothpaste or their desert.

“Since 2011 TKAG has pointed out the increasing number of independent and peer-reviewed reports that are exposing the ludicrous claims of the oil and gas industry. I think it also establishes cause for President Zuma to re-think his ‘game-changer, game-changer’ litany before he ends up in the same position as President Obama, who in 2012 stated that the US had 100 years of energy from natural (shale) gas.”

Meanwhile, newsworthy occurrences during the past two weeks include the horizontal oil well development (similar technology as shale gas) in Albania by Bankers Petroleum that caused unexpected gas explosions, geysers and flooding resulting in the evacuation of more than 60 families. Closer to home, Shell continue their effort to win hearts and minds with a donation of R5 million to assist with the development of a Seismology Reflection Centre at Wits University. It is expected that the money will be aimed at research and exploration of among others, the onshore Karoo basin.


Statements by Weiner & Coombs:

Article on the incident in Albania:

Video on the incident:

Shell funding Wits centre:

"US fracking bombshell: shale won’t last another decade" April 2, 2015

A US Department of Energy advisory council earlier this week issued a significant statement: "Shale won’t last beyond the next decade.”

The announcement came as part of a study submitted to the Department last Friday by the National Petroleum Council at request of Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz. The report advised that the US should begin an immediate  push to exploit oil in the Arctic waters off Alaska, or be at risk of a renewed increased reliance on imported oil in the future due to the decline in domestic oil production.

The Arctic is believed to hold large reserves of conventional oil and gas.

During the past years, the US has reduced their dependence on oil imports through its exploitation of shale oil reserves, using horizontal drilling and fracking technologies. 

Rex W. Tillerson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ExxonMobil and study committee chair stated that due to regulations and other factors, it is easier to drill in other parts of the Arctic than the area under US authority.

The council claims that technology and techniques are available to safely operate in the Arctic region and prevent and remedy any spills.

Natural Resources Defence Council director for Alaska remarked that: “If there’s a worse place to look for oil, I don’t know what it is. There aren't any proven effective ways of cleaning up an oil spill in the Arctic."

Ironically, due to climate change the decline in ice in the Arctic region has made the region more accessible to exploitation of oil and gas reserves. The report comes at a time when most scientists agree that the world needs to drastically reduce the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels and rely on cleaner technologies.

Royal Dutch Shell, in 2012 attempted to explore in the Chuckchi and Beaufort seas, but the project suffered a series of mishaps, including a series of violations leading to negative environmental impacts when its drilling vessel ran aground and had to be towed to safety. The company is still pursuing drilling in the region.

Responding to the report, Jonathan Deal, CEO of Treasure Karoo Action Group stated “While we are disappointed by the news that the US plans to move ahead with allowing Arctic drilling, we are encouraged by the acknowledgement of the US government that shale gas is not proving to be the ‘game changer’ it has been branded by the oil industry.  The inaccuracy of President Obama’s statement of a ‘hundred years of gas’, which was fuelled by the industry, also quickly comes into perspective. (In 2013, a presentation by TKAG predicting exactly these trends, was released to an international shale conference.)

This development carries serious implications for countries hopeful of achieving growth, revenue and job creation from shale drilling and illustrates clearly that the bullish view of President Zuma on shale gas is premature and ill-considered. South Africa should take note of recent developments and reconsider its strong support for shale gas. SA Tax money spent on planning for and development of infrastructure to service development of onshore gas will cost billions and may not be needed for long, leaving a legacy of expensive white elephants.”



-          The NPC study:

-          Article on the NPC study : needed-now-1.3012163

-          2013 TKAG presentation forecasting economic trends: 

"OPEC predicts tough times for shale" March 22, 2015

Earlier this week the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) forecasted that US shale oil production will decrease significantly by the end of 2015. The organisation said that due to the fact that the price of oil has more than halved since June 2014, it expects a reduction in drilling rigs active in shale plays.

OPEC questions the resilience of US producers to withstand the oil price collapse having regard for the high cost of shale oil production. 

In its monthly report OPEC stated:

“Tight crude producers are aware that typical oil wells in shale plays decline 60 percent annually, and that losses can only be recouped by drilling new wells. As drilling subsides due to high costs and a potentially sustained low oil price, a drop in production [in the US – Ed.] can be expected to follow, possibly by late 2015.”

The report confirmed that the number of US oil rigs has fallen to a record low and has dropped to below 1,000, from 1609 since October last year. During the last week 56 drilling rigs were withdrawn, leaving 866 to remain operational - the lowest number since March 2011.

It was also reported that more US oil companies have filed for bankruptcy protection in recent weeks.

Commenting on the news, Jonathan Deal, CEO of Treasure Karoo Action Group stated “The high operating costs, steep decline curves and shaky economics of the shale drilling industry is not new, but appears to be an increasing obstacle to the longevity of the industry. In fact, Shell has lost more than $2 billion in US shale. The current low oil prices are part of the reason Shell announced that they are disassembling their shale gas team in South Africa and reconsidering some of their projects across the globe to cut costs.There are fundamental similarities between shale oil and shale gas production.”

On Monday Minister of Minerals, Ngoako Ramatlhodi , speaking at the Chatham House extractive Industries in Africa conference in London was quoted as saying that shale gas exploration rights will be issued later in 2015 in South Africa, explaining that “At the moment we are going through the consultation process (with stakeholders such as communities).”

Jonathan Deal observed, “This is not the first time that the Minister has made this untrue statement. To date, the government has not consulted with the public of South Africa on the issue of shale gas mining, despite repeated promises to do so. Our earlier communication to the minister around this statement has largely been ignored.”

TKAG and AfriForum this week reconfirmed their commitment to hold government and operators accountable and to ensure a fair process and outcome on shale gas mining in South Africa.


OPEC article:

Reuters article, Minister Ramatlhodi:


Responding to media questions relating to the announcement by Royal Dutch Shell that the company is disassembling its executive team on Karoo shale gas, TKAG leader, Jonathan Deal suggested that the public move may be a clever ploy by Shell to pressure the government into moving faster with regulations and licences. Shell is still awaiting an exploration right from government, along with Bundu and Falcon, the other two applicants for shale gas exploration.

“Shell is a seasoned campaigner and what may at first blush appear to be a withdrawal from Karoo shale gas, may just be a Trojan horse. International oil prices, a longer-than-expected licensing process and community opposition have all played a role in this current situation” said Deal. “However, I believe that the overriding pressure is to be found in the growing ‘pariah status’ of the technology. Globally, the well-laid and handsomely financed plans of the oil and gas lobby are failing, as the real truth of the unsustainability and risky nature of shale mining emerges.”

Arguing that ‘no responsible government can afford to ignore international and peer-reviewed scientific data’, Deal pointed to recent decisions in Scotland, Wales, Algeria, Canada and New York that illustrated a real and pressing reason for South Africa to put the brakes on its rush to licence Shell and others in the Karoo.

“President Zuma’s utterings on shale gas from as early as his State of the Nation Address in 2014, are surely now regretted by the ANC as being ill-considered and premature. The Government knows full well that it has to commit to a scientifically structured and holistic investigation in the form of a strategic environmental assessment. I am convinced that it is this process that will expose the unsuitability of shale gas as part of South Africa’s energy mix,” he explained. “To state publicly before even the most cursory exploration that ’shale gas will be an economic game changer’ is irresponsible of President Zuma.”

“In any event, TKAG and its alliance partners, including Afriforum remain ready to pursue legal action should this become necessary.”




Jonathan Deal 076-838-5150 or 023-358-9903 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jeanie Le Roux 072-959-1818 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


"Economics and International Trends Sour Shell’s Taste for SA Shale Gas" March 15, 2015

Quote by TKAG CEO, Jonathan Deal

The news that Royal Dutch Shell and possibly other global oil and gas players are shifting their focus from Karoo gas exploration is most encouraging. It’s high time that the negative aspects around shale gas as a technology came home to roost. TKAG has warned since February 2011 that:

1.                    Shale gas does not produce the numbers of jobs claimed by the oil and gas lobby;

2.                   Jobs are specialised and unsustainable;

3.                    Even the best shale gas wells deplete very rapidly;

4.                   Global estimates of shale gas reserves have been routinely overstated by US agencies and this misinformation
                       has been perpetutated by the likes of Shell;

5.                    Large scale environmental pollution, including pollution of groundwater sources has been concealed behind
                        non-disclosure agreements while oil company executives continue to lie to the public; and

6.                   The South African government has foolishly touted fracking as an economic game changer in the face of solid
                       alternative evidence that establishes a case for application of great caution in such a decision.

In the last 4 months alone, we have seen confirmation of fracking being banned or at the least placed under extended moratoria in two Canadian provinces, Algeria, Scotland, Wales

and New York State. Even in Shell’s home country, the Netherlands, fracking is under moratorium until 2017. This brings close to 150 the number of places where the technology is under attack.

All of this aside, fracking remains a process that risks community health and water supplies. It poses a threat to established and critical sustainable jobs in agriculture and tourism, and its economic benefits are increasingly being questioned by economists and international leaders. And it has been blamed for delaying the vital roll-out of renewable energy while governments have swallowed the marketing hype of the global oil and gas giants.

Even though the current situation in SA may have arisen through the dual influence of the SA Government’s mishandling of this issue and the drop in global oil prices, fracking will eventually be exposed as a bridge to nowhere for global communities.


Shell’s announcement:


Jonathan Deal, CEO. Treasure Karoo Action Group 076-838-5150

Jeanie Le Roux – Director – 072-959-1818

"Government announcement of R108 million for fracking a double edged sword" February 26, 2015

On Wednesday, Minister Nene announced, as part of his Budget Speech, that R108 million has been allocated to preparing for shale gas mining.  Mining Weekly reported that “besides enforcement activities, such as inspections, the department would conduct research and advocacy work on fracking in preparation for licensing shale gas exploration and for monitoring compliance with the regulations once exploration starts.”

“The department receives an additional R108-million over the period for this work,” said Treasury.

Responding to the announcement, Jonathan Deal, CEO of Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) called it a “double edged sword”. “On the one hand, it is encouraging to see that the Department realises the enormous amount of work and research that needs to be conducted before South Africa would be in a position to even consider shale gas exploration and production. On the other hand, our government appears to be ignoring international developments around shale gas which are showing documented negative impacts on communities, the fiscus and the environment.”

Deal continued, “Shale gas is also not proving to be the economic game-changer other countries were hoping for. In the light of this, we are battling to understand why government is spending so much time and resources on pushing this issue, when they are only starting to embark on research now. It is a little late in the game to start with research now – when two applicants are submitting their final environmental management plans (EMPs) and could be receiving exploration rights soon. Regulations have also already been drafted. Good legislation and regulations must be informed by research. This is not the case with shale gas,” Deal stated. “In many respects the government has failed dismally to properly manage the process since 2011.”

“We will be writing to the Minister to enquire about the nature of the budget this money is earmarked for. It is critical that any money spent is on actions to clarify the fundamental issues that have characterised the discourse on shale gas. All necessary aspects must be thoroughly dealt with to avoid a waste of tax payers’ money and an unworkable energy policy in South Africa. If not, more tax payers’ money would be wasted and this exercise would have been an expensive afterthought. TKAG and AfriForum are determined to ensure constitutional adherence, transparency, accountability and good governance with regard to fracking,” Deal concluded.


Mining Weekly Article:

"Algeria and Scotland choose water over gas" February 5, 2015

“Between shale gas and water, the Algerian people will choose water; you think the Algerian state would be crazy enough to endanger the lives of its citizens?” These were the words of Algerian Prime Minister Abdel Malek Sellal.

According to media reports Algeria desert communities south and around the town of In Salah launched fierce protests against fracking activities where they live.

Meanwhile, Scotland Energy Minister Fergus Ewing confirmed a moratorium on the granting of planning consents on all unconventional oil and gas extraction including fracking.,

“Given the importance of this work [research into fracking] it would be inappropriate to allow any planning consents in the meantime,” he said.

Algeria and Scotland are two countries on a long and growing list of more than 140 places around the world where fracking has been placed under some form of restriction or ban. During December 2014 New York State, New Brunswick and Quebec announced their plans to either ban fracking or introduce new and extend existing moratoria.

Taking aim at the South African government’s position on shale gas, Treasure Karoo Action Group CEO Jonathan Deal said that the government was clinging obstinately to its ‘game-changer’ position. Deal argued that the ANC may well have painted itself into a corner by prematurely vowing to licence shale gas mining and pursue the extraction of the resource.

“The conduct of our government in this matter defies belief. A Canadian report placed in front of President Zuma, which surely played a signifciant role in the banning of fracking in Quebec and New Brunswick, appears to have been ignored.”

Comparing SA’s approach with that of other countries, he said: “The government and the applicants to mine shale gas in South Africa are tight-lipped on the international community’s opposition to fracking. The countries and states that have placed a halt on the process also need jobs and energy, but they appear to be allowing science to inform policy, instead of the other way around. President Zuma’s administration, on the back of marketing talk from Shell et al, makes ridiculous claims of jobs, energy, and doubtful safety from the effects of water pollution as a basis on which to make hugely sigificant decisions for this country. It’s wrong.”

Head of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum, Julius Kleynhans, agreed: “Our communities and citizens have the right to be informed and to participate in every decision regarding activities that may impact their health and livelihoods. Bearing in mind that the ANC will share handsomely in Shell’s profits, and looking at how the shale gas debate in South Africa appears to have been deliberately engineered, it is clear that something is horribly skewed. The ANC may have right to make decisions about developments, but it cannot operate outside of the tenets of the Bill of Rights.”

Join AfriForum and support TKAG in the fight against fracking. SMS “Karoo” to 45354. R1/SMS


"ANC increases stake in Shell ahead of shale gas exploration" January 27, 2015

In 2012 news broke that the ruling party, the ANC, had significant shareholding in the oil company Shell and would stand to benefit financially from allowing shale gas exploration. This news caused an outcry and was met with criticism from civil society groups and opposition parties. The ANC’s Batho Batho Trust had a 51% stake in Thebe Investments, which is the local empowerment partner of Shell SA. Thebe Investment Corporation had stakes in Shell SA Refining and Shell SA Marketing. Through Thebe, the Batho Batho Trust effectively had a 12% stake in Shell SA Refining, and a 14% stake in Shell SA Marketing.

At the time, Jonathan Deal, CEO of Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG), stated: “The ANC government has effectively placed itself in a position of being player and referee in the game. This is unacceptable.” Despite calls for divestment by several groups, including opposition parties, to date no steps have been taken to rectify this predicament.

According to an article published in Business Day last week (20 January 2015), Thebe Investment Corporation has recently increased its shareholding in Shell SA to 28%, indicating that the investment company is still committed to its partnership with Shell. The article stated: “In 2002, Thebe bought a 25% stake in Shell SA Marketing. In 2011 this stake was increased to 28%.In 2008 Thebe acquired 25% of Shell SA Refining in order to broaden its exposure. With this latest transaction, Thebe will buy an additional 3% stake for cash … This will then take its stake to 28% of the entire Shell SA operations.”

The most recent increase in the stake comes after a merger of the Shell SA Marketing and Shell SA Refining businesses to form Shell Downstream SA. In essence, these comprise the operations of Shell SA.

"The net asset value of this merged entity will run into billions of rand," Shell SA chairman Bonang Mohale said to Business Day last Monday. "Their (Thebe’s) stake will also amount to billions of rand.” When asked about what this would imply, Mr Mohale said: "It means Thebe must be involved in everything we (Shell) do in South Africa."

Thebe Investment Corporation chairman, Mr Vusi Khanyile, said Shell was the largest single investment in the Thebe portfolio.

Jeanie le Roux, Operations Director at TKAG, said: “The recent move by the ANC investment arm to increase its stake in Shell is concerning, even more so at this time after the inappropriate conflict of interests has already been pointed out since 2012. We would have held this view regardless of the specific political party in power. The timing of past increases and especially the most recent event – mere months before shale gas exploration licenses are expected to be issued – is very suspect.

“We will be taking the necessary steps to ensure transparency and accountability on this issue, even if it means that we have to go to court,” Le Roux concluded.

Julius Kleynhans, Head of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum, agrees: “This is an absolute disregard for the tenets of the Constitution and principles of good governance. The fact that increases in shareholding took place during the government investigation into fracking and before the expected issuing of licenses is very disappointing. If there is any corruption or misconduct involved, we will make sure it is exposed and that the right people are held accountable.”

Jeanie le Roux

Head of Operations


Cell: 072 959 1818 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Julius Kleynhans                                                   

Head of Environmental Affairs


Cell: 082 829 9182                                                    

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mariska Batt

Media Relations Officer


Cell: 084 299 6928

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

"New York and Quebec ban fracking over health and economic concerns" December 22, 2014

“This is what we have been waiting for – it's a real game-changer!” were the jubilant words of TKAG CEO Jonathan Deal on learning that both New York State and Canada’s Quebec province have made clear their intentions to ban fracking.  “Surely now, and with all of the other information that we have placed in front of President Zuma, his administration will have to place a halt on their plans to proceed with this dangerous and uneconomical mining process in South Africa?”

The news was reported by The New York Times on Wednesday 17 December. According to the newspaper, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner, Joseph Marten said he would issue a “legally binding findings statement” seeking prohibition of the controversial process. This comes after the release of an exhaustive 5 year study on the potential risks and benefits of shale gas. (Health Department Report on Fracking in New York State) ( )

Key points of the report centered around the lack of public information, documented health impacts and the fact that the economic benefits to the state would be ‘clearly lower than initially forecast’.

Summarising fracking as a process with ‘great risk and little benefit’, Acting NY State Health Commissioner, Howard Zucker, stated “I cannot support high volume hydraulic fracturing in the great State of New York.” The potential adverse impacts are wide-ranging and widepread,” he added, citing increased truck traffic and accidents, the potential for air and water pollution, and the inability of small communities to deal with the ‘overwhelming’ costs of compliance with safety measures.

During the same week, Quebec’s environmental agency, Bureau des audiences publique sur l’environnement  (BAPE), released a report, concluding that fracking could have ‘major impacts’ on nearby communities, from polluting the air to increasing traffic and noise. Even with ‘rigorous attenuation measures,’ fracking would still cause a ‘range of annoyances’ for residents hundreds of metres from a work site, the BAPE said. The report importantly also concluded that there is not enough evidence to support the oil industry’s claims that fracking would bring economic benefit. 

According to Deal “Canada and New York have set the standards for what a true investigation into risks and benefits of fracking entails. In July 2014, we placed a substantial science based report from Canada in front of Mr. Zuma and officials of his administration. There has never even been a simple letter of acknowledgement of this report from anyone in the Presidency or even the Department of Minerals.”

“Our position is simple; based on the lack of science, transparency, independent economic analysis and fair representation in the South African investigation into fracking we oppose any move to introduce the technology to this country,” explained Deal. He argued that “the government investigation was completed within a few short months and is in TKAG’s view a complete fiasco because, amongst other issues, Departments such as Agriculture, Health, Rural Development and Land Reform, Transport and Tourism were not even represented in the task team. And by the time that the South African Cabinet decided to lift the moratorium, not a single South African health care professional had provided documentary input on the decision to allow fracking in South Africa.”

“If the ANC pushes South Africa down this road, it is going to rain global embarrassment down on the Zuma administration and expose the slipshod, biased and reprehensible manner in which the government has managed this issue since 2010. These facts will all emerge in court and government ministers and officials, past and present will be called to court to explain themselves to the public of this country,” promised Deal.

Julius Kleynhans, Head of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum agreed, saying “Apart from Quebec and New York, fracking is not allowed in the Netherlands – Shell’s home country. Why is fracking good enough for South Africans if governments in America and Europe do not believe it is in the best interest of their citizens? Costs to tax payers for infrastructure and repairs, maintenance, pollution remediation, court battles, policing and law enforcement and many other issues seem to be ignored by the government. Apart from the obvious risks of pollution and costs to the country, this is fast becoming a significant civil rights issue. We need answers and we call on the government to stop the process and conduct a thorough investigation – like we have asked for since 2011.” 

Interestingly, these developments coincided with the release of a report by the Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative which revealed the significant increases in crime, road deaths and health issues associated with the fracking industry in Pennsylvania.


New York:


Pennsylvania report:


Jonathan Deal



Phone: 023 358 9903/076 838 5150

Jeanie le Roux

Head of Operations


Cell: 072 959 1818 

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Julius Kleynhans

Head of Environmental Affairs


Cell: 082 829 9182

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Esmarie Prinsloo

Head of Media


Cell: 072 332 9824

"No fracking in Shell’s home country" December 15, 2014

The Dutch Parliament voted by a 71% majority this week to extend the current moratorium on shale gas in the country to 2017.

Dutch Labour Party leader Diederik Samsom said that it is ‘completely unnecessary’ to drill for shale gas in the Netherlands. He also said that said there would be no drilling as long as his party is part of the governing coalition. Political parties in opposition to shale gas mining (fracking) in the Netherlands are joined by environmental organisations and local communities, a number of local councils, water boards and even brewing groups like Heineken. The primary concern cited by these groups is the risk of pollution.

In the Groningen region of the Netherlands, where conventional gas has been extracted for years, severe problems including earthquakes have made residents wary of the promises around the so-called benefits and safety of gas drilling.

“So while Shell SA’s Bonang Mohale and Jan-Willem Eggink claim that they will ‘make an ecological example of the Karoo’ and ‘leave the Karoo better than [we] found it’, the Dutch obviously don’t want it in the homeland of Royal Dutch Shell,” said Jonathan Deal, CEO of Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG). “

“The fact that the lawmakers of the country are voting so decisively against shale gas is a clear message to thinking people, that they [the lawmakers in the Netherlands] trust neither the process, nor the promises of Royal Dutch Shell.” The South African government’s conduct around shale gas and the ‘game-changer, game changer’ chant of Mr. Zuma (and Shell) is reprehensible in the light of growing international condemnation of this dangerous and uneconomical mining method.”

In South Africa, during 2011, Shell SA were found guilty of false and misleading advertising around shale gas in South Africa, this arising from a detailed complaint submitted to the Advertising Standards Authority by TKAG. “Nothing has changed,” argued Deal; “they [Shell] are still lying and obfuscating.”

Julius Kleynhans, Head of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum agreed “This is a watershed development that the South African government ought to investigate. So far, the government has not once publicly acknowledged the international pressure against shale gas – and has instead swallowed Shell’s bait. Every passing month in which the government continues on its course of a slipshod investigation and various breaches of Constitutional law is firmly paving the road to Court. Afriforum is committed to protecting the civil rights of the people of this country, and our alliance with TKAG will be the vehicle that makes that happen.”

In Albany, New York, a broad-based and specialised alliance of physicians and health professionals (Concerned Health professional of New York) has released an updated report: Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking.”:

The original compendium, released five months ago, has served a critical role in the debate in New York and has been influential across the U.S. and overseas. This second edition includes descriptions of more than 80 new findings, but like the peer reviewed report by Canadian Scientists released to Mr. Zuma and every Premier in South Africa by TKAG, may probably fall on deaf ears and blind eyes in the south African Government.

Also weighing in on scientifically based fact on shale gas mining is PSE Healthy Energy who has released an analysis of 400 peer-reviewed scientific publications on the impacts of shale gas development. Their report shows that 96% of all papers published on health impacts of shale gas mining indicate potential risks or adverse health outcomes.

“Despite all of this scientific information which has been recorded and placed in front of the government in South Africa over four years, the Zuma Administration appears to be hell-bent on pursuing shale gas. The ANC may have the power to make decisions in this country but they are going to be compelled to work within the tenets of our laws and our Bill of Rights. Fracking is not a ‘done deal’ is South Africa just yet,” promised Deal.

Labour Party statement

Groningen gas field


"SA tax payers to cough up for fracking infrastructure" December 11, 2014

The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Pravin Gordhan, is reported as having told media that his department is poised to assist affected municipalities to meet the necessary infrastructure requirements and related services to support hydraulic fracturing. (A detailed map showing applications around South Africa, including areas outside the Karoo area, can be sourced at

The minister’s statement coincides with reports that Shell and the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) are in agreement that government should prioritise fracking exploration in order to support energy diversification.

SACCI allegedly stated that oil and gas exploration or fracking could create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Jonathan Deal, CEO of Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG), said ‘It is unsurprising, that the government expects taxpayers to finance the infrastructure required by foreign multinationals to make their profit through shale gas mining. The extent of the influence wielded in the global halls of power by the oil and gas industry is well documented the world over, and in South Africa the ANC stands to gain from any profits generated by Shell through their indirect (but well documented) interests in Shell South Africa. We are questioning why South Africans' tax rands will be used to pick up expenses related to the large scale and extraordinary activities of mining companies like Shell, Bundu, Falcon and Chevron. Moreover, we aver that the job numbers and other speculated “benefits” of fracking have not been proven, even in the US, and invite SACCI to defend their statement that fracking in South Africa could create “hundreds of thousands of jobs”.’

Julius Kleynhans, Head of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum, continued that ‘Initial construction and ongoing public road maintenance and repair costs, allied to the enormous volumes of trucks that drive between well pads to service wells and provide among other things chemicals and equipment, will be substantial. Our research shows that a number of counties in Texas budgeted, and are spending, about $500 million over a five year period to repair roads damaged by trucks from the shale drilling industry. This figure alone is more than double the amount Shell has committed to for their budget for the entire exploration process in South Africa (which is anticipated to take nine years).

‘Additional expenditure that is also routinely being recovered from US taxpayers – and which will be placed as an additional burden on South African taxpayers – includes the cost of dealing with increased traffic and road deaths, community and worker health impacts, policing and law enforcement, pollution remediation (for example acid mine drainage), social impacts and potential negative financial impacts to the tourism and agriculture economies. As a civil rights organisation, our view is that the mining companies should pay for the additional infrastructure and any damages to municipal infrastructure, whether in the form of taxes, fees or other means.

‘Since 2011 we (TKAG) have been warning of this issue that will impact on South African taxpayers. I am convinced that the government has to re-assess its position in this matter and that it should put the brakes on and conclude the process with appropriate consideration of the many unresolved issues. This matter will affect every South African, whether you live in the Karoo or not. I encourage South Africans to stand up and register as interested and affected parties. It is time to stand up and be heard. Contact us for more information,’ Deal concluded.

The statements by Minister Gordhan and SACCI come mere weeks after Hillary Clinton, long-time global advocate for the drilling industry in the United States, made a surprising turnaround when she recently stated in a speech at a League of Conservation Voters dinner in New York that shale gas drilling carries risks and that drilling should not be allowed when the environmental and health risks are too high.

Original statement by Minister Gordhan:

Statement by Clinton:

Jonathan Deal



Phone: 023 358 9903/076 838 5150

Jeanie le Roux

Head of Operations


Cell: 072 959 1818 

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Julius Kleynhans

Head of Environmental Affairs


Cell: 082 829 9182

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Esmarie Prinsloo

Head of Media


Cell: 072 332 9824
"SA shale gale may dwindle in the face of government caution" December 1, 2014

In a surprising recent development it has emerged that some government officials are encouraging more research and a strategic approach to shale gas. This is in contrast to the ‘game changer’ stance of President Zuma and the exploration schedule released by the Department of Minerals.

Following recent meetings by the Select Committee on Land and Mineral Resources, including one specific meeting in which the Director-General of the Department of Minerals presented to the Committee on shale gas, the acting Chairperson of the Committee, Mr. M. Rayi, remarked that matters should not ‘simply be rubberstamped’. Mr. Rayi stated that the presence of media and interested parties at the meetings indicated that many of the issues currently in front of the committee are of public interest and that it was important to hear the views of stakeholders. Rayi said that the Committee should not be accused of acting as a conveyor belt for the decisions of the executive and that matters must not be rushed through– even if it means that some processes are delayed.

“It is encouraging to hear this from a government body,” Jonathan Deal, CEO of Treasure Karoo Action Group said, “During the past four years the Department of Minerals have in a largely scretive process, alternately dithered and made ill-considered decisions regarding shale gas exploration. This process has occured without meaningfully and honestly incorporating concerns raised by other departments, the public and stakeholders. The attitude of the Select Committee is commendable and they play an invaluable role as an oversight body. We will closely monitor developments over the coming months and participate in any process that will promote stakeholder engagement and public consultation.”

Meanwhile, at a recent conference hosted by the Fossil Fuel Foundation, Dr. Jim Petrie, Western Cape Government Director: Energy and Green Economy, said that there are too many uncertainties related to shale gas and its extraction. This viewpoint was unequivocally endorsed by Dr Kevin Winter of the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at the University of Cape Town. “We know so little about what is going on.” He also said that water ultimately should determine whether fracking in the Karoo takes place or not, calling water itself and the issues allied thereto a game changer for the decision on fracking in South Africa.

Jonathan Deal stated “It has long been our position that until it can be proven that shale gas is the right choice for South Africa, in every respect, and with an eye on true sustainability, we will be opposed to it. The known lack of information and clarity on the fundamental issues needs to be openly and scientifically resolved before a decision can be taken on shale gas on behalf of the country. At the moment, an executive decision, which we believe has been largely influenced by the powerful oil and gas lobby, has put the cart before the horses.”


Further information:

Jonathan Deal 023-358-9903 / 076-838-5150

Jeanie le Roux – 072 -959 -1818  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


"Shell accused of lying in Nigeria oil spill case, South African fracking" November 18, 2014

Last week, Friends of the Earth (FoE) Netherlands and a group of farmers from villages in the Niger Delta took Shell to court to claim compensation for damages caused by a major oil pipeline burst, causing devastation to local communities.

During the case, which was heard by a Dutch court during 2012, Shell’s lawyer testified that the oil company had taken precautionary steps to avoid oil spills in the Niger Delta, including the installation of a leak detection system, blaming instead, the spills on criminal tampering in the area. Due in part to this evidence, says FoE Netherlands, the court ruled that Shell was responsible for only one out of the four oil spills.

However, according to lawyers representing the Nigerian farmers, documents revealed in the UK High Court this year have shown that there was in fact no leak detection system in place and the Dutch oil company had consistently ignored calls from its own staff to replace the pipeline, despite being told their lifespan was “non-existent or short”.

Shell "dismisses the suggestion that it has knowingly continued to use a pipeline that is not safe to operate," it told the BBC.

The emails, letters and internal reports submitted to the British High Court revealed that senior Shell employees were concerned before the spill about the fact that Shell's pipelines in the area had reached the end of their lifespan and needed replacing to avoid danger to lives, the environment and the economy.

Jonathan Deal, CEO of Treasure Karoo Action Group, observed: “What we see happening in Nigeria is what we see in Shell’s conduct around the world: promises, pollution and denial. Shell denied being responsible for a case of groundwater contamination tied to shale gas drilling in the USA in 2011 while at the same time marketing their fracking plans in South Africa, claiming it is safe, environmentally sound and that they have a clean track record.”

Julius Kleynhans, Head of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum, stated: “Shell cannot be trusted. While making promises to South African farmers about not competing with them for water during fracking operations, the oil giant is doing exactly that in New York State – suing a local community for water rights for its operations in Pennsylvania.”

Meanwhile in the USA, documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity in the USA, revealed that the oil and gas industry illegally injected around 3 billion gallons (11.3 billion liters) of fracking waste water into drinking water aquifers in central California. California is currently experiencing a significant drought. These findings came after the US Environmental Protection Agency ordered a review of possible contamination.

Deal said: “For these companies, profit is their main priority and they prove daily, through their conduct in other countries, that they will do whatever they can get away with - it will take more than promises by the Minister of Mineral Resources to control this industry in South Africa.”

He continues: “News about polluting incidents from the drilling fields of the USA is recorded by TKAG on an almost daily basis. Of interest and concern is that the negative information on shale gas mining across aspects ranging from pollution to economics is increasing – and many of the sources are articles based on documented and peer-reviewed research. President Zuma’s pronouncement of shale gas being a game changer is being thoroughly challenged by these emerging facts – facts that the government has swept aside in its eagerness to swallow Shell’s marketing hype.”


Further information:

Jonathan Deal 023 358 9903 / 076 838 5150

Jeanie le Roux – 072 959 1818  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Julius Kleynhans 082 819 9182


"Shell statements riddled with untruths" November 10, 2014
Addressing a meeting in Cradock, Eastern Cape, Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) has slammed statements by Shell SA’s Bonang Mohale and Jan-Willem Eggink as being riddled with untruths.

“Either the publication, Engineering News has misquoted Shell, or the company executives are staying true to form of being deceptive in their quest to market shale gas to South Africans. I believe that the latter option is more probable,” said Jonathan Deal, CEO of TKAG.

“Shell is well aware at this time that the oil giant’s public consultation process was completely inadequate in that, amongst other flaws, hundreds of thousands of Karoo residents were excluded from the process. Quoting figures of 80 000 pages and 6000 questions sounds impressive, but fails to discharge Shell from the obligation of proper and meaningful public consultation.”

“Based on recent conduct by Shell in New York State where the company is directly competing with residents for their drinking water to use in its fracking operations, we are justifiably suspicious of Shell’s promises to South Africans around the issue of water. I visited many fracking sites in America, and never found one that would even closely fit into 150 square meters. It’s disingenuous, but standard industry tactics to couch the impact of developments in percentages – of course 1% sounds like a very small amount of land impacted. Even were this true, Shell is silent on the land area that would be developed by other multinational companies in a host of other applications, so the whole picture must be considered.”

Deal concluded, “At a minimum, the company and its fellow applicants will have to re-visit the public consultation process – and this time round they are going to encounter a far better informed public. We want answers on bans, moratoria, restrictions on fracking in other countries and also a public discussion with Shell in connection with their documented violations of fracking regulations in America, concluded Deal. It’s time for Shell to face the music and tell the truth.”

Meanwhile, the company has been accused by Greenpeace of drilling two offshore wells in New Zealand without the appropriate permits


Further information:

Jonathan Deal 023-358-9903 / 076-838-5150

Jeanie Le Roux – 072 -959 -1818 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Julius Kleynhans 082-819-9182

"Shell’s water promises to SA worth nothing in USA" October 30, 2014

SWEPI, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell is caught in the middle of a controversy around water sales in New York. The town of Painted Post, which shares an aquifer with neighbouring communities, has signed a five year agreement with SWEPI in 2012, reportedly worth up to $20 million to supply bulk water (up to 1 million gallons/ 3.7 million litres per day) to SWEPI for its shale gas fracking operations across the border in Pennsylvania.

Due to the scramble for water by corporations and municipalities, water is now often being sold to the highest bidder and environmental reviews that may slow down the sales are being avoided. In 2013 a Rochester State Supreme Court Judge ruled that the town has attempted to “short circuit” the environmental review process and banned further water sales to Shell pending review. The judgement was challenged by Shell and was later overturned on technical grounds related to the legal standing of the plaintiff. A siding in Painted Post was established for trains moving water to Tioga County in Pennsylvania, where officials have expressed concerns about local water shortages.

SWEPI recently acquired more acreage in Tioga and Potter counties to access shale gas deposits, which has forced the company to look beyond its several water withdrawal sites in Pennsylvania. 

Commenting on these developments, Jonathan Deal, CEO of Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) said “These developments are significant not only for the USA but for a dry country and semi-arid region such as South Africa and the Karoo which receives a fraction of the rainfall per annum of Pennsylvania and New York.” The lack of clarity as to where water would be sourced for drilling operations in South Africa, is of great concern. “None of the applicants have disclosed where they would source water for fracking. Different options are available, but none have been investigated and tested for economic viability and resource availability. Shell has promised not to compete with Karoo dwellers for water, but they have not disclosed their plans yet.”

At a recent event which included representation from industry, civil society and government officials, Nigel Rossouw from Shell SA stated that each well could require up to 30 million liters of water for fracking in the Karoo.

About 90% of Karoo towns depend on groundwater and yet risks associated with shale gas exploration and extraction remain unquantified.

TKAG is a small non-profit organization that requires financial support from the public to ensure accountability in the discourse on shale gas.


For more information on the story see:

Jonathan Deal


076 838 5150

023 358 9903

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jeanie le Roux

Director of Operations

072 959 1818

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Jeanie Le Roux, Director of Operations for Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) told journalists today that the lobby group was ‘closely monitoring’ the conduct and process of the State in connection with the issuing of regulations on shale gas mining and the processing of exploration licenses. We stand ready, with our alliance partner, AfriForum, to take legal action if it is required.

After a briefing by the Department of Minerals to the Select Committee on Land and Mineral Resources today, Le Roux remarked that the Department (of Minerals) appeared uncoordinated and failed to adequately answer a number of questions by committee members. This observation was made by other attendees of the meeting as well.

TKAG is receiving legal advice and was told that some of the recent developments, which include processing of applications, may be in breach of the MPRDA.

A situation, which at the beginning of 2011 appeared to be a virtual ‘slam-dunk’ for exploration licenses has developed fully four years later into an approach that is a little bit more measured and careful. Several legislative hurdles and a general lack of clarity remain unresolved. “Royal Dutch Shell and other applicants have been compelled to revise their plans a number of times over 4 years, and still have to satisfy a plethora of legal and operational hurdles, said Le Roux. “TKAG, as a mandated representative of thousands of South Africans is still not satisfied with the level of scientific [and economic] analysis of fracking, nor of the ability of the government to control mining and enforce mining laws in general, especially with regards to shale gas, although we believe that there have been slight improvements compared to what the situation was like four years ago.”

Le Roux said that the public, including directly affected farmers may now have another opportunity to engage with applicants and the state prior to the issue of regulations and licenses for exploration. “TKAG encourages all persons who may consider themselves to be interested and or affected parties to make good use of the forthcoming consultations and environmental impact assessments. Get informed, pitch up and make yourself heard,” she urged. “TKAG has researched shale gas for 4 years and all of our information is available.”

“Companies and those with a financial interest in seeing a development proceed will logically try to make things sound and look as attractive as possible. Le Roux cautioned farmers not to permit oil companies to control access to the land on which they sought to operate, saying that “Oil and Gas companies in America use every trick that they can to keep media and environmentalists away from fracking operations. Do not sign an agreement that allows and oil company to stop you and your visitors moving around on your own land. Get sound legal advice before signing any deals or agreements”

“As part of our operations TKAG intends to document a range of conditions before and after fracking takes place in areas where companies intend to explore and potentially frack. Through this South Africa will be able to determine whether or not the promises of the applicants and government will have been fulfilled.” 

TKAG is a small non-profit organization that requires financial support from the public to ensure accountability in the discourse on shale gas.


Jonathan Deal


076 838 5150

023 358 9903

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jeanie le Roux

Director of Operations

072 959 1818

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

"Anti-fracking Alliance to appeal to Public Protector" August 25, 2014

In line with its promise to approach the Public Protector (PP), TKAG today confirmed that it would be submitting a written complaint to the PP on August 26.

Speaking on SAFM, TKAG CEO Jonathan Deal referred to the July 21 letter addressed to President Jacob Zuma, requesting him to reinstate the moratorium on shale gas mining.

“We appealed to President Zuma in an effort to ensure that any decision on shale gas by our government is lawfully exercised and in line with the Constitutional Rights of South Africans. Our thorough research on fracking over almost four years, indicates that there are unresolved issues in science and law that require proper action by our Government before fracking can be presented to South Africa as a fait accompli and an economic ‘game-changer’. These issues were carefully detailed in our letter to Mr Zuma.”

Deal added that he was unhappy that the Presidency had not even acknowledged TKAG’s letter. “It appears that Government intends to ignore its critics even when there is very good reason to afford the message serious consideration in the interests of this country.”

Referring to the Gauteng e-tolling saga, Julius Kleynhans, Head of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum said that the Alliance had not waited until vast expenditure had taken place before approaching Government. “We learned by reviewing the facts of the e-toll issue and have chosen to be pro-active and open with Government and the Applicants for exploration licenses. We look forward to the findings of the Public Protector,” said Kleynhans.

“Fracking in the sensitive Karoo poses significant risks which emphasizes the importance of proper informed decision-making guided by comprehensive scientific input,” Kleynhans added.

Jonathan Deal


Phone: 023 358 9903 / 076 838 5150

Jeanie le Roux


Cell: 072 959 1818

Julius Kleynhans

Head: Environmental Affairs


Cell: 082 829 9182

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Esmarie Prinsloo
Head: Media Relations


Cell: 072 332 9824

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

"Karoo Lobby Group Meets Department of Minerals on Shale Gas" August 6, 2014

Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) met yesterday with a high-level delegation from the Department of Minerals (DMR) to discuss issues relating to shale gas mining (fracking).

TKAG CEO, Jonathan Deal, accompanied by Advocate Paul Hoffman from the Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa (IFAISA), and Julius Kleynhans, head of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum, attended a meeting in Pretoria, at the invitation of the Department of Mineral Resources.

Aspects raised by TKAG and AfriForum addressed amongst other aspects, the so-called five critical areas of debate around shale gas in South Africa; regulations on fracking, public participation, the Environmental Management Plans (EMP’s) of Shell, Falcon and Bundu, Science-and-the-Precautionary Principle, and the DMR task team, constituted in 2011 by Ms. Susan Shabangu, the then Minister of Minerals.

The historic meeting in the debate on shale gas, created an opportunity for two seemingly conflicting approaches to fracking to explore common ground and was well attended by staff from DMR and other government departments. The meeting came less than two weeks after the TKAG publicly petitioned President Zuma to re-instate the moratorium, or to take other action to delay fracking pending further scientific investigation and government attention to relevant material issues.

Commenting on the engagement, Deal remarked that a long overdue process had commenced, and that the initiative exercised by the DMR demonstrated a willingness to acknowledge valid concerns and engage with the public. “This is just the start of a process that may ideally see fracking approached in a more equitable manner and with due consideration of the various issues, which from a civic stakeholder viewpoint, have been absent and require broader acknowledgement, consideration and resolution from government prior to moving ahead with exploration.Experiencing the seismic activity at the meeting clearly indicated that the environmental risks are very real.”

TKAG believes that first prize for South Africa would be a transparent and scientifically valid approach to the investigation of shale gas resources, with due deference to the tenets of the Constitution.

“We maintain an open mind about the ability of shale gas mining to match the claims of its proponents – if it is indeed the ‘game changer’ claimed by Shell et al, then those claims can be validated by scientific investigation, and a thorough cost-benefit analysis in which science can inform policy.  In our view there is still work to be done on a number of fronts before exploration licences are issued. We expect to see the final regulations on fracking very soon and will read and consider those within the context of the National Environmental Management Act and the Mineral & Petroleum Development Act, as amended.  DMR has opened the doors to further and regular engagement and we intend to make the most of the opportunity.”

The meeting did however, not relate to the letter addressed to the President and feedback from the presidency is still awaited before the deadline date of 21 August. 2014.


Further information: Jonathan Deal 023-358-9903 / 076-838-5150

Jeanie Le Roux – 072 -959 -1818  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Julius Kleynhans 082-819-9182


“The premature litany of game-changer, game-changer in South Africa has gone far enough. We have taken serious note of the promises of President Zuma to South Africa in connection with fracking and are now poised to take legal steps.” These were the words of TKAG CEO Jonathan Deal, addressing a media briefing in Johannesburg this morning.

Explaining TKAG’s concerns, Deal said that the group occupied a significant role in the shale gas debate in South Africa. “Through our constant involvement in research, debate and engagement with various stakeholders we are established as a serious voice in this issue of national importance. The new scientific evidence that we have placed before President Zuma and the Cabinet, when read in context of the debate and in the light of a dearth of public participation must surely raise red flags for the government regarding constitutionality, sustainability, science and the rule of law.”

Julius Kleynhans, head of Environmental Affairs for AfriForum, joined the call to declare a new moratorium on fracking. “AfriForum have read the letter from TKAG to President Zuma and are most concerned with the points raised. New evidence presented from abroad, and the lack of public participation are issues that in our view require immediate attention. Given the unequivocal statements of President Zuma about fracking in his State of the Nation addresses in this year, we believe that the only way in which he can now halt the process that he has effectively set in motion is via an immediate moratorium.”

Deal remarked that TKAG was the ‘thin end of the wedge’ of a broad based opposition to fracking which included attorneys briefed by other stakeholders, various civil rights groups, trade unions, agricultural organisations and most recently Cosatu and the EFF who are both strongly opposed to fracking. He concluded “This letter presents our government a valuable opportunity to address fatal flaws in its approach to shale gas mining without the need for enormously expensive and embarrassing litigation from the citizens of South Africa.”


Jonathan Deal - CEO: Treasure the Karoo Action Group - Landline: 023-358-9903 - Cell 076-838-5150

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Julius Kleynhans                                                                         Esmarie Prinsloo

Head: Environmental Affairs                                              Head: Media Liaison

AfriForum                                                                                      AfriForum

Cell: 082 829 9182                                                                    Cell: 072 332 9824

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                                           Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For the formal letter and copies of documents to President Zuma please contact Jeanie Le Roux on 072-959-1818 or mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

"South African Insurers tracking shale mining risk" June 25, 2014

Responding to formal written enquiry[1] submitted during May 2014, the South African Insurance Association and various insurers have clarified their anticipated response to risk associated with shale gas mining.

The enquiry launched by AfriForum and Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) was motivated by documented evidence that the insurance industry in the United States and United Kingdom is taking steps to avoid liability in connection with certain categories of risk arising from shale gas mining and associated activities.

The primary issue put to South African insurers was essentially twofold; should shale gas mining proceed in South Africa, would the insurers permit existing insurance policies on farms and elsewhere to stand unaltered; and would they accept new business on the same terms in areas or under circumstances where shale gas mining could multiply the risk of loss?

In a comprehensive written reply, the South African Insurance Association (SAIA) stated: “At this point, it is too early to be able to properly evaluate the local risks, although there is no doubt that the insurance industry will remain close to this as the context-specific details unfold.” SAIA elucidated its position by referencing various articles and reports that it had considered, viz. an article published in 2013 by Vanessa Otto-Mentz, the Head of Strategy for Santam.

In the referenced opinion, Otto-Mentz emphasizes the need for good context-specific decision-making and risk management practices. “In arid areas fracking will present a major source of water consumption and the impact of any pollution will be highly significant.” Commenting on the Santam report, AfriForum Head of Environmental Affairs, Julius Kleynhans remarked: “Because South Africa is a water scarce country, this statement rings particularly true in future risk evaluation that we anticipate will occur if fracking is to go ahead.”

Considering the overall reaction by the South African insurers polled, it is evident that while some of them have been tracking developments elsewhere many have no formal position and are unable to say whether they might be amending policies in the event that shale mining exploration or production becomes a reality in this country.

AfriForum and TKAG are urging their members and the public at large to make formal inquiry with their insurer to clarify their specific cover or lack thereof. TKAG CEO Jonathan Deal concluded: “President Zuma has made it clear that the government has decided in favour of shale gas mining. Therefore, if one is to take that statement seriously, it is not a question of ‘if’ but rather ‘when’ exploration and the risk events associated therewith will commence.”

Jonathan Deal

CEO: Treasure the Karoo Action Group

Landline: 023-358-9903

Cell 076-838-5150

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Julius Kleynhans                                                           Esmarie Prinsloo

Head: Environmental Affairs                              Head: Media Liaison

AfriForum                                                         AfriForum

Cell: 082 829 9182                                             Cell: 072 332 9824

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                            Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG) and AfriForum have formally approached South African Insurers and the South African Insurance Association to clarify their policy on the unique risks presented by shale gas mining and ancillary activities.

With the advent of new technology and shale gas mining spreading at a rapid pace in the United States, insurance providers are scrambling to review their polices and adjust accordingly.

For many companies, such as Nationwide, one of the largest insurance companies in the United States, a thorough review of the damages that can arise due to fracking and other drilling activities, has led to the conclusion that it is better for the company to refuse coverage altogether for any damages related to fracking.

According to an internal memo outlining the company’s policy, “After months of research and discussion, we have determined that the exposures presented by hydraulic fracturing are too great to ignore. Risks involved with hydraulic fracturing are now prohibited for General Liability, Commercial Auto, Motor Truck Cargo, Auto Physical Damage and Public Auto (insurance) coverage.” Unsurprisingly, this information has raised legal questions and valid concerns for many US home and property owners.

TKAG CEO, Jonathan Deal is of the opinion that the issue of liability for and indemnity from likely claims is something that communities, homeowners and farmers must be informed about. “The potential for loss here – as a result of an accident – or simply accumulated and unanticipated impacts over a period of time – is enormous, and anyone exposed to these risks – even road users, and people with occasional passing exposure to the activity has an undeniable right to be properly informed by their insurer ahead of time.”

A copy of the letter of enquiry in PDF format addressed to the South African Insurance Association and the specific companies is available on request from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jonathan Deal

CEO: Treasure the Karoo Action Group

Landline: 023-358-9903

Cell 076-838-5150

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Julius Kleynhans                                             Esmarie Prinsloo

Head: Environmental Affairs                             Head: Media Liaison

AfriForum                                                        AfriForum

Cell: 082 829 9182                                             Cell: 072 332 9824

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.            

Breaking news from a leaked Canadian report on fracking reveal serious concerns underpinned by scientific investigation. The report commissioned in 2012 byformer Canadian environment minister Peter Kent, has been developed by the Council of Canadian Academies, 'an arm’s-length scientific body' to provide an overview of the known scientific research on fracking.

Many of the impacts, risks and conclusions drawn in the report have since 2011, been highlighted by TKAG and other South African stakeholders in formal communication to the South African public and various departments of the South African government as well as the Cabinet of South Africa.

Despite these caveats, now convincingly echoed from afar, the ANC has made it clear that they will be pursuing shale gas mining in SA - "The development of petroleum, especially shale gas, will be a game changer for the Karoo region and the South African economy. Having evaluated the risks and opportunities, the final regulations will be released soon and will be followed by the processing and granting of licences." [President Jacob Zuma in his State of The Nation Address in Cape Town ]

Among the risks and concerns mentioned in a pre-release of the report, are the following excerpts:

[...publicly-available science on shale gas extraction to be woefully inadequate...]

[... Most experts agree that impacts on water raise the greatest environmental concern by shale gas development ...]

[... Shale gas extraction, which is much more advanced in the United States than in Canada, has been proceeding without an adequate scientific understanding of its impacts...]

[... Authoritative data about potential environmental impacts are neither sufficient nor conclusive...]

[... While tens of thousands of shale gas wells have been drilled across North America over the last two decades, mostly in the United States, there has been no comprehensive investment in the research and monitoring of environmental impacts...]

[...The potential impacts of leaking wells are not being systemically monitored, and predictions (on the impacts of leakages) remain unreliable ...] 

[... Shale gas can have a dramatic effect on communities, increasing income inequality and pollution ...]

This report - soon to be available in an unabridged version is a vindication of the position that those opposed to shale gas mining have held in SA since 2011. Scientific documents of this nature, readily available to the ANC and its heads of Department will greet the organisation in Court when it has to justify its position and action in pushing this technology into South Africa in the manner in which it has stated it will do.

"The ANC and its ministers still have an opportunity to avoid a blunder on a global scale - or they can pugnaciously forge ahead with their stated intention to let fracking loose in South Africa." - Jonathan Deal



Jonathan Deal 023-358 9903  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or    

Jeanie Le Roux - 072-959-1818 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Here is a link to the news report :


“One of the greatest challenges facing political leaders is the choice between unrestricted development at any cost, and sustainable development that truly looks past short term benefit,” this according to TKAG ceo Jonathan Deal, in a radio interview yesterday.

Deal went on to say that the 3-year debate that had been conducted in South African media had done little to settle the facts from a scientific viewpoint, and he pointed to the inept manner in which the South African government had approached the entire question of shale gas mining as the underlying reason for the present state of affairs.

“Our government has done a shocking job of investigating this technology – which is not something that can be put into a geographical box – as in the Karoo – or attached to the timeline of an election – as the ANC promised to do. As an organisation with a solid grounding in the facts of shale gas mining, underpinned by personal and detailed inspection of fracking in the United States, we are much encouraged by the bold leadership of Agang in taking a firm stance against fracking under the current circumstances.”

“TKAG has walked a fairly lonely road in public opposition to fracking (despite the existence of various stakeholders who are preparing to oppose the issuing of licences) and it is significant to us that Agang has taken note of the research and global opposition – from ordinary communities – to arrive at a position that so unequivocally supports our view.”

“For once, it appears that the ordinary people in the street are being considered over the interests of big business and political contacts.”

“I believe that were it up to Agang, the process of public consultation over fracking, long promised, but never delivered by the ANC would have been properly planned and underway. The fact that President Zuma on TV, literally promised that South Africans will have jobs and economic benefits from fracking shows that the ANC have made up their minds without consulting the public – just like in the Etoll debacle.”


Jonathan Deal                                                                                  Jeanie Le Roux

CEO: Treasure the Karoo Action Group                                   Director - operations

Landline: 023 358 9903                                                                 072-959-1818

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                                This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

"Fracking debate loses key voice" April 23, 2014

South Africans from both sides of the fracking debate today paid tribute to Professor Gerrit Van Tonder from the Institute for Groundwater Studies at the University of the Free State. Prof. Van Tonder passed away on 22 April 2014.

CEO of the Treasure Karoo Action Group, Jonathan Deal expressed his condolences: “Professor Van Tonder was a remarkable individual that contributed enormously to the fracking debate. He leaves not only a void in terms of the debate in South Africa, but also in our hearts. He will be greatly missed.”

Professor Van Tonder was known by some as the “U-turn professor” when he changed his mind about the potential impact that shale gas mining could have in the Karoo after initially being pro-fracking.  Prof. Van Tonder shed light on the unique risk that dolerite poses to Karoo groundwater with regards to shale gas mining. His research has been widely reported in the international media.


Jonathan Deal


Treasure Karoo Action Group

Cell: 076 838 5150

Landline 023 358 9903


Jeanie le Roux

Director of Operations

Cell: 072 959 1818

"ANC pursuing an Etoll blunder with fracking" April 9, 2014

Gwede Mantashe’s statements on shale gas mining are materially inaccurate and reflect the desperation of the ANC to gather votes at the last minute.

It is untrue that only through fracking in the Karoo [and most of South Africa] that SA’s energy needs could be met. There are immediate and viable solutions to the country’s energy needs that can come onstream long before the 12-year timescale of uncertain Karoo gas reserves and without the risk to sustainable jobs in agriculture and tourism, and the documented risk to water.

The broad claim that ‘the US and Canada are doing well in that area’ belies the facts that shale gas mining is failing to perform economically according to the claims of its proponents in those countries and that the ANC has consistently ignored the global popular and science-based opposition to the technology in those countries and elsewhere.

During a visit to SA in March, Sir David King, [Special Representative on Climate Change to the UK government and previous chief scientific advisor to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown] stated that fracking should not be considered in a water scarce country such as South Africa, pointing instead to the massive opportunity for wealth creation in South Africa presented by renewable energy technologies.


Jonathan Deal

CEO: Treasure the Karoo Action Group

Landline: 023-358-9903

Cell 076-838-5150

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Julius Kleynhans                                                                      Esmarie Prinsloo

Head: Environmental Affairs                                           Head: Media Liaison

AfriForum                                                                                   AfriForum

Cell: 082 829 9182                                                                 Cell: 072 332 9824

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                                       Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

" Has corruption found its way into fracking applications?" April 4, 2014

National allies in opposition to shale gas mining, AfriForum and Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG) this week expressed concern in connection with the allocation of certain rights to Bundu Gas & Oil Exploration (Pty) Ltd ‘Bundu’ for envisaged shale gas mining in South Africa.

Bundu is a subsidiary of an Australian firm known as Challenger Energy Ltd (previously Sunset Energy Ltd). In a late 2010 annual report to its shareholders, the then Managing Director of Sunset explained how Bundu’s application for the reservation of an area of the Karoo had been rejected, but that by ‘leveraging our connections in South Africa, we were quickly able to make a new application over a significantly larger area.’

The shareholder report continues to confirm that ‘this [the second] application has been accepted by PASA’ [Petroleum Agency of Southern Africa].

TKAG addressed these concerns (over what constitutes ‘our connections’ and how such connections were ‘leveraged’ to ‘quickly’ produce a successful application ‘over a significantly larger area’) - in writing to the directors of the company in Australia and to its local representative. We received what in our opinion, and in that of our legal counsel, is a cursory response that has failed to satisfactorily explain the formal statement of the Managing Director in the annual report of the applicant.

In the circumstances, AfriForum and TKAG will pursue this enquiry under South African law. PASA has been approached for information and has indicated that the agency requires an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act prior to releasing records and data in connection with this applicant. That application is currently being attended to by our legal counsel and will be submitted in the near future.

Jonathan Deal

CEO: Treasure the Karoo Action Group

Landline: 023-358-9903

Cell 076-838-5150

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Julius Kleynhans

Head: Environmental Affairs


Cell: 082 829 9182

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Esmarie Prinsloo

Head: Media Liaison


Cell: 072 332 9824

E-mail:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

"UK Climate Chief urges SA to forsake shale gas" March 28, 2014

The Department of Environmental Affairs released, on Wednesday 26, a desktop study investigating literature and potential scenarios that relate to the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of shale gas. The report, completed by the consultancy, Environmental Resources Management (ERM) concluded that under certain ideal circumstances shale gas is cleaner than coal when used for electricity generation.

Responding to the study, Jeanie Le Roux, operations director for Treasure Karoo Action Group observed "The study dovetails in large part with our findings after 3 years of research into this issue. It is refreshing that the state through its own research has migrated from the broad assumption and hackneyed industry claim that shale gas is cleaner than coal. The ideal circumstances suggested in the report, that would support reduced GHG's are unlikely to materialise in SA without vast capital investment which would carry a knock-on price effect on produced gas.”

Le Roux was referring to the lack of infrastructure in South Africa to use gas on the scale that it would make a difference in emissions, as well as to the undeniable point that extractable coal will never be left in the ground - by any government. "Even should SA completely change to shale gas as an energy source next week, the coal will be extracted and exported to be burned by other countries, into the same global atmosphere that we all share" she said.

Meanwhile, Sir David King, UK Special Representative on Climate Change, and past Chief Science Advisor to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, visited South Africa this week, and encouraged South Africa to determinedly pursue renewable energy. Sir David's statement concluded that renewable energy presented a massive opportunity for wealth creation in South Africa, and that South Africa should not be pursuing shale gas, because of the scarcity of water in the country.

Concluding her briefing, Le Roux noted that these two developments supported the plethora of reasons pointing to the need for much more open and detailed research and public consultation, before South Africa can confidently assume that shale gas is the 'game changer' that the oil and gas industry have billed it as.


For more information please contact:
Jonathan Deal, Chairman - Treasure Karoo Action Group
cell: 076  838 5150 – alternate 023-358-9902 e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jeanie le Roux - Operations Director

cell: 072 959 1818 e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“MPRDA Amendments could be last minute vote gathering” March 7, 2014

“The lack of strategic management of the oil and gas industry by the Department of Mineral Resources appears to be exacerbated by impulsive and uncoordinated direction from the executive government. While we do not support the wholesale extraction of all available minerals, we do understand the need for a controlled and structured mining industry in South Africa. Every country needs its resources developed and distributed in a responsible way and in most cases this is achieved via the private sector in concert or partnership with government. We do not support the latest proposed amendments.”  This is the view of TKAG leader, Jonathan Deal referring to media reports on proposed amendments to the Minerals & Petroleum Development Act, (MPRDA). According to a Business Day report, African National Congress (ANC) MPs on Wednesday proposed that the state be entitled to take over the entire operations of any future offshore and onshore oil and gas ventures.

The idea, which was said to have ‘surprised’ DA MP James Lorimer, was contained within the proposed amendment of clauses 86A (1) and (2), which, if passed as they presently stand, would give the state, through a designated organ, a right to a 20% free carried interest on all new exploration and production rights of oil and gas. The ANC’s proposed changes to clause (2) say that in addition to the free carry interest, the state is “entitled” to further participation of up to 80%. Currently the clause imposes a ceiling on the state for an additional acquisition of 30% of the venture. According to the DA, if this proposal is adopted, it could clear the way for the State to effectively nationalise the mining industry. DA MP James Lorimer pointed out that if the amendments were voted on and adopted, the Bill could come before the National Assembly next week (March 1o-14) and then soon after at the National Council of Provinces, and practically law before the May 7 national elections.

TKAG commented that this latest move by the ANC served to highlight the confused and confusing approach of the State to addressing the management of the country’s mineral resources. Recent months have seen uncoordinated utterances by Cabinet Ministers, in conflict with Government Gazette notices and speculation on final regulations for oil and gas activities indicating a last-minute change of legislative direction.

“This activity by the ANC, appears to have left the Oil and Gas Industry reeling and other stakeholders bewildered. Stakeholders consulted by TKAG are of the opinion that much of this activity could be viewed as a ‘last-minute’ attempt by the ANC to garner votes. Whatever, the motivation, the fact is that this state of affairs clearly highlights the lack of a sensible, coordinated and transparent approach to managing South Africa’s mining affairs.”


Contact Jeanie Le Roux 072-959-1818 or Elzane Grobbelaar 021-824-2935

"SA’s Public Investment Corporation set to gamble with State Employee Pensions" February 27, 2014

The senior investment officer for the PIC, Dan Matjila told Reuters “Shale will be a game changer here and we will be the biggest investor.”

The PIC manages 1.4 trillion rand of South African public employee retirement funds

Treasure Karoo Action Group CEO, Jonathan Deal, said “We challenge the PIC to defend its choice of shale gas in South Africa as an investment for the pension funds of South Africa’s state employees. We are prepared to state categorically that the PIC has not done their homework on this issue. They see it as an opportunity to make money, but we see it as an opportunity for them to lose the hard‐earned savings of the people that they are supposed to protect.”      

“Shale gas losses in the United States between 2011 and 2013 ($6.8 billion) have cost multinational corporations including Royal Dutch Shell the dollar equivalent of R68 billion rands. Moreover, unless there is some secret document from which the PIC has developed its bullish appetite for shale gas, we have strong cause to believe that the PIC has relied on the infamous Econometrix report paid for by Shell and released in March 2012. If indeed the PIC has another, and more credible source of information, they must make it public as they are working with public funds. We suspect moreover, that Challenger Energy, one of the applicants to mine shale gas in South Africa which has been making a noise about looking for partners and which is represented by a highly placed local BEE businessman, could become part of this investment.”       

According to Head of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum, Julius Kleynhans, the proposed high risk investment may pose an even bigger risk on water resources. “Political pressure 'similar to the case of e‐tolls' may pose detrimental risks to valuable natural water resources. The Karoo is a semi‐arid area and it is evident that water resource management is not nearly up to standard throughout South Africa with substantial negative economic consequences. One cannot risk this critical resource for short‐term economic gain. Having regard for the status quo around water issues in South Africa – including what it is presently costing the country to deal with water pollution and shortages, we are not confident that the Departments of Minerals and Water Affairs have the necessary infrastructure to manage responsible utilization and development in the country,” argued Kleynhans.

TKAG concluded that “To gamble with the pensions of teachers, policemen and policewomen, nurses and other state employees smacks to us of the same attitude that lead to the investment in the Etolls. In 2013 the biggest bank in the Netherlands made principal decision not to finance shale gas or lend any money to any company involved in fracking TKAG is not a financial organisation, but our research on shale gas is solid, and we believe that the PIC is taking a very big gamble, and that the holders of those pensions need to stand up and put a stop to it – if our government can’t do their sums.”

CONTACT JONATHAN DEAL 023-358-9903/076-838‐5150

JEANIE LE ROUX 072-959-1818


"US team facilitates SA fracking discussion" February 14, 2014

Stakeholders in the South African shale gas debate met in Pretoria, February 10 and 11 to consider the issues surrounding the advent of shale gas mining in South Africa. The workshop, hosted by the Departments of International Relations and Cooperation, Water Affairs and Environmental affairs provided a forum for stakeholders from government, industry and civil society to air their views on fracking under the Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program.

The US delegation, under the auspices of the US Department of Interior was headed up by Joseph Figueiredo of the Bureau of Energy Resources with support from the US Bureau of Land Management as well as the US Environmental Protection Agency and other US officials with knowledge of shale gas mining legislation and policy. Figueroa made it clear that the US delegation was not in SA to promote fracking but rather to assist by sharing experiences connected with the technology in the United States.

Representatives from Environment, Water Affairs, CSIR, Department of Science & Technology, Department of Minerals, Petroleum Agency of SA, amongst others, formed part of the SA government delegation. Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Baker Hughes, SRK Consulting, Sasol and others represented industry. Presentations on the Civil Society perspective were delivered by Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) and TKAG.

In an announcement in Johannesburg after the event, TKAG CEO Jonathan Deal said that the engagement was the most positive development that TKAG had experienced in more than three years of frustrating dialogue around fracking in South Africa. “Finally, we have a commitment from engaged government agencies to develop a strategic environmental assessment around the issue of shale gas mining. This is what we have been asking for since May of 2011.”

Complimenting the Department of Water Affairs for its proactive and accessible approach to the debate, Deal remarked “We can only hope that by some process of osmosis, the Department of Minerals will follow this example and engage appropriately with all of the stakeholders in this decision.” “In the light of this dialogue, we experience the seemingly uncoordinated announcements by Minister Shabangu (Mining Indaba and government Gazette) in connection to shale gas as perplexing. It will be a sad day if the DMR must be opposed by South African citizens in pursuit of their rights,” concluded Deal.

Meanwhile, the DMR published two notices in the Government Gazette, one inviting comment on placing a restriction on granting new reconnaissance, technical cooperation permits and exploration rights for the next two years and another notice, restricting licences that may be granted from applications received prior to February 2011 over a designated area, from using hydraulic fracturing in the exploration phase until the regulations around the process are finalised.

The engagement closed after the adoption of a set of principles presented by Prof Gregory Scott of DWA. Facilitator, Mr. Aniel Singh - Deputy Director General of Water Affairs stressed DWA’s commitment to continue the process with the inclusion of all stakeholders.


Jonathan Deal


Treasure Karoo Action Group

Cell: 076 838 5150

Landline 023 358 9903

Elzane Grobbelaar

Treasure Karoo Action Group

Phone Office: 021 824 2935

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jeanie Le Roux

Treasure Karoo Action Group


Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

"Still no consultation on fracking by Mineral Minister " February 5, 2014

Minister Shabangu today announced at the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town that final regulations pertaining to shale gas exploration would be released shortly. TKAG Operations Director, Jeanie Le Roux remarked that “This announcement comes as yet another disappointment in light of the promises that the Minister has made regarding public consultation on the matter since 2011. To date no effective public consultation undertaken by the government on shale gas mining has materialised in South Africa, despite repeated calls from various stakeholders and public undertakings from Minister Shabangu.

Le Roux stated that various organisations and individuals had submitted detailed comments on the proposed draft technical regulations on shale gas exploration and extraction that were released in late 2013. “There has, to date been no discussion on the proposed amendments to the regulations which were based on American Petroleum Institute standards. The fact that SA’s laws may be based on the same standards that have proved so problematic in America is a serious concern,” remarked Le Roux.

Arguing that “It is illogical for Minister Shabangu to make such statements (that government “will move ahead decisively, yet responsibly, with the exploration of shale gas, and to unleash its potential contribution to, among others, cost-competitive energy security, employment creation and a range of other latent benefits to the country”) while various role-players and other governement departments are finally embarking on an appropriate investigation of shale gas mining”, Le Roux concluded that “based on up-to-date data, a duplication of the questionable American “shale boom” seems highly unlikely not only in South Africa, but across the globe. She emphasised that TKAG remained committed to working with all stakeholders to scientifically evaluate shale gas within the South African energy, environmental, social and legal structure.


Issued by TKAG – further detail available from

021-824-2935 – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

072-959-1818 – Jeanie Le Roux

023-358-9903 – Jonathan Deal

“Vague fracking legislation points to uninformed decisions – Alliance” November 15, 2013

The vagueness of the proposed regulations reveals a lack of scientific grounding and re-affirms the need for a proper strategic environmental assessement before decisions made by Government on fracking in South Africa can be implemented. This is the view of the Anti-Fracking Alliance (AfriForum and TKAG).

“During the last month when we have worked long hours to address extremely technical regulations, we have been increasingly amazed at the slapdash manner in which these regulations have been drafted. A number of the material clauses are vague in nature. For example, there is frequent application of the words ‘appropriate’, ‘should’, ‘may’ and ‘consider.’ Language of this nature encourages ambiguity in interpretation and application, both from a holder’s perspective as well as that of enforcer, and these are not words which will encourage an industry, notorious for breaking rules and concealing such activity, to afford adequate protection to the environment. This is especially undesirable when one is dealing with a controversial and risky technology,” said Jonathan Deal, CEO of Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG).

Deal asserted that a lack of scientific underlay is evident when one considers the content of the draft regulation, and it is apparent that standards have simply been cut-and-pasted from other publications, with insufficient attention to the real conditions in South Africa. Compounding the task of commenting on the regulations is the secrecy that is still maintained in connection with research teams.

“There has been insufficient involvement of government departments that will be affected by the impact of shale gas mining in South Africa. On the Government’s own papers we have to conclude that the departments of Agriculture, Arts & Culture, Communications, Trade & Industry, Education, Forests & Fisheries, Health, Housing, International Relations, Police, Defence and Intelligence, Rural Development and Land Reform, Social Development, Sport & Recreation, Transport and Tourism have been denied an opportunity to be involved in the shale gas decision for South Africa,” said Deal.

Head of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum, Julius Kleynhans stated that the Alliance intends to ensure that civil rights are upheld and that all development in South Africa is sustainable – in line with the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic. “Under the current circumstances and with the information available to us we are opposed to this form of shale gas extraction in South Africa.”

Kleyhans argued that the Minister of Mineral Resources, Susan Shabangu, provided only 30 days to comment, observing that “even for organisations that have maintained a constant research capability, this has been challenging. To suggest that this so-called ‘public comment period’ consitutes public consultation would be laughable.”

The Anti-Fracking Alliance – AfriForum and TKAG – plan to continue to oppose shale gas mining in South Africa until proper inclusive and informed decision-making takes place. “This problem no longer only impacts the Karoo – several applications have been registered in pursuit of hydrocarbons, and people in KZN, the Free State and other provinces will soon realise this. If South Africa is to escape the damage done in Nigeria, the country needs proper regulations and an enforcement capability that can consistently apply the letter of the law,” concluded Kleynhans.

"ANC pursuing an Etoll blunder with fracking" April 9, 2014

Gwede Mantashe’s statements on shale gas mining are materially inaccurate and reflect the desperation of the ANC to gather votes at the last minute.

It is untrue that only through fracking in the Karoo [and most of South Africa] that SA’s energy needs could be met. There are immediate and viable solutions to the country’s energy needs that can come onstream long before the 12-year timescale of uncertain Karoo gas reserves and without the risk to sustainable jobs in agriculture and tourism, and the documented risk to water.

The broad claim that ‘the US and Canada are doing well in that area’ belies the facts that shale gas mining is failing to perform economically according to the claims of its proponents in those countries and that the ANC has consistently ignored the global popular and science-based opposition to the technology in those countries and elsewhere.

During a visit to SA in March, Sir David King, [Special Representative on Climate Change to the UK government and previous chief scientific advisor to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown] stated that fracking should not be considered in a water scarce country such as South Africa, pointing instead to the massive opportunity for wealth creation in South Africa presented by renewable energy technologies.


Jonathan Deal

CEO: Treasure the Karoo Action Group

Landline: 023-358-9903

Cell 076-838-5150

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Julius Kleynhans                                                                      Esmarie Prinsloo

Head: Environmental Affairs                                           Head: Media Liaison

AfriForum                                                                                 AfriForum

Cell: 082 829 9182                                                               Cell: 072 332 9824

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                                      Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

"DA statement on fracking jobs questioned" September 4, 2013

Treasure Karoo Action Group is of the view that the so-called jobs expected to be created by fracking will not transpire in the expected form or the anticipated numbers and thus should not inform this present debate.

“Firstly, the legal environmental process to begin exploration will take some time – years perhaps, more than months. The exploration process itself has been estimated, even by Shell, at around 4-5 years, and there will be scant local jobs in this phase.”

“Thereafter, it would be a number of years to full production and even then, the rural residents of the Karoo are not going to be in line for trucking jobs and rig operators. Moreover, the technical teams move from location to location – they don’t employ and train a new team for every location.”

“It is concerning that even the DA is counting the jobs probably based on the flawed report released by Econometrix on behalf of Shell.”

This report is flawed because the model that it applied is inappropriate to arrive at a decision in such a dynamic and complicated environment.

In simple terms, the Econometrix model (criticized by various SA economists) adds all the so-called benefits of shale gas but ignores secondary costs to existing workers such as agriculture and tourism, and makes no effort to quantify the cost of damage to roads and town infrastructure nor to health costs, remediation of pollution or even the large agency that would need to be trained and equipped with expensive equipment to monitor and enforce standards.

“Pennsylvania, the ‘darling of US shale gas areas at present’ has just posted its worst year on job statistics since 2010 – this is telling in a state that has been hyped by industry as growing so much due to fracking.” 

TKAG’s concern is based on the fact that our leaders appear to have desperately swallowed the first figures that they’ve been offered [by Shell et al] and that their ears and eyes are closed to warnings of what is emerging, in credible reports, from the US.

“The government is obliged to consult openly and honestly on this huge and lasting decision for SA.”

Media Enquiries:

Jeanie Le Roux – Dir. Operations 072-959-1818

Jonathan Deal – CEO 023-358-9903 076-838-5150



"Water usage in fracking to be controlled by Water Act – Alliance September 3, 2013

AfriForum and Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG), a robust alliance against fracking in South Africa, view the announcements by the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa – whereby she declared fracking a controlled activity in terms of the National Water Act – in a positive light.

“This provides an opportunity to control fracking when and where it takes place within the context of the preservation of water as a scarce natural resource,” says Jonathan Deal, Chairperson of TKAG.

“In her briefing today, the Minister dealt with 12 key policy positions. It can hardly be expected of the Minister to block an activity that has recently been so firmly supported by her colleagues in Cabinet. The fact that Minister Molewa has indicated that her Department is readying itself to address fracking does not constitute an authorisation for fracking to go ahead, such a decision would have to come from the Department of Minerals and Energy. We only hope that the Minister will not permit the authority of the DWA to be diluted through delegation of the authority to issue water licences.”

The Alliance against Fracking in South Africa last month said it believed the country’s laws were inadequate to control an industry with a severely tarnished reputation and the process of fracking.

“We have solid legislation and the addition of stronger policies to ensure sustainable development and the protection of the environment and water resources are certainly welcomed, however we must emphasize that our laws need to be enforced and currently there is a great lack of the proper monitoring of water licences, compliance and law enforcement,” says Julius Kleynhans, Head of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum.


Jonathan Deal


Treasure Karoo Action Group

Cell: 076 838 5150

Landline 023 358 9903

Julius Kleynhans


082 829 9182

Elzane Grobbelaar

Treasure Karoo Action Group

Phone Office: 021 824 2935

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jeanie Le Roux

Treasure Karoo Action Group


Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

"Disappointment over government's position on shale gas"August 22, 2013

The Alliance against fracking in South Africa, AfriForum and Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG), stresses that shale gas exploration cannot proceed, following a statement byTrade and Industry Minister, Rob Davies, that Government could authorise shale gas exploration before next year's elections.

The Alliance is most disappointed by Government's stance on shale gas exploration. “Firstly, we believe that such a decision will have an impact which will endure far beyond the election cycle of the Government. This decision cannot be rushed through before next year's election. It will be completely irresponsible,” says Jonathan Deal, Chairperson of TKAG.
“Secondly, Minister Shabangu has promised on various occasions to consult with the public of this country prior to making any decision on shale gas mining. This has not happened, and the people of South Africa - at all levels - are entitled to be heard on an issue of this magnitude.”

“We are informed that Government has thus far relied largely on research commissioned by the Department of Minerals - which, in our considered view is singularly inadequate, considering the multidisciplinary nature of mining activity.”

The environmental issues, of which water is only one, are complex and varied, and the laws of South Africa are wholly inadequate to control an industry with a severely tarnished reputation and the process of fracking, the Alliance believes.

“Government is selling votes with this move, but it is an empty promise. Even if Government issues the licences, exploration cannot legally proceed. We will not allow our constitutional rights to be breached; the Alliance will appeal against Government. These court cases will take a long time,” says Julius Kleynhans, Head of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum.
“AfriForum and TKAG are most certainly pro-development, but we cannot endorse a hasty and ill-considered choice that may compromise the prosperity of current and future generations”

Hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, has led to a massive expansion of natural gas production in the United States but has been banned in other countries such as France due to environmental concerns.

“The gas is extracted after cracking open hydrocarbon-rich shale by pumping water, sand and chemicals into the deep wells at high pressureEnvironmental groups and many scientists believe this technique degrades the land, pollutes ground water and fouls the air,” added Kleynhans.

To become a member of AfriForum and support this issue, SMS “Karoo” to 31336. 50c/SMS.
Julius Kleynhans

Head: Environmental Affairs


Cell: 082 829 9182

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Jonathan Deal


Treasure the Karoo Action Group

Cell: 076 838 5150


Esmarie Prinsloo

Head: Media Liaison


Cell: 072 332 9824

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

"ANC must learn how to consult" July 23, 2013

This is the view of Treasure Karoo Action Group CEO, Jonathan Deal, who responded swiftly to the statement by the ANC secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe, that "the Government will forge ahead with contentious projects that it claims will kick-start the stuttering economy – even if it is taken to court."

Deal pointed out that the ANC has allowed the decision about shale gas development to become mired in secrecy and misinformation. And, with the exception of certain maverick statements by various ministers, the ANC has been largely absent in this debate. Suddenly, the issues of job creation and economic development are used to push through "contentious projects" even though the public participation process has not been concluded and environmental impact studies indicate that shale gas mining will wreak havoc on the area. "And naturally, government ministers have no issue with going to court because they are not accountable for the legal costs," Deal said.

“AfriForum is very concerned about the attitude of the ANC regarding these issues. Our Government preaches sustainable development and democracy, while it simultaneously ignores the Constitutional rights of its citizens. The e-toll saga is a striking example of the way Government disregards the rights and concerns of ordinary people. This ill-advised stance on fracking is another,” says Julius Kleynhans, Head of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum.

"While TKAG is well aware of the issues that South Africa faces in terms of jobs and energy, research has proven that the so-called benefits of shale gas mining do not necessarily co-incide with the figures claimed by Royal Dutch Shell in their campaign to market shale gas to South Africa," says Deal. "It defies belief that a half-hearted effort to research shale gas, and in the face of its own recalcitrance in the past the ANC is now promising to fast-track the process.”

Kleynhans added that fracking will not ensure sustainable job creation or energy in the country and that the long-term effects might cost the country much more. Acid mine drainage in the West Rand is but one example of economic development where a few benefited while the tax-payer has to bear the long-term effects of environmental damage and the financial burden.”

TKAG, AfriForum and their various alliances represent broad spectrum of South Africans who oppose fracking in the Karoo. Government appears to be unaware of this, or they simply do not care. Until such time as the efficacy of this type of development has been proven, the Alliance have vowed to oppose all plans to turn the Karoo into a mine dump. “We’ll meet you in court, Mr Mantashe,” promised Deal.

To support the Alliance campaign against fracking SMS “Karoo” to 31336. SMS charged at 50c.
Julius Kleynhans Head: Environmental Affairs AfriForum
Cell: 082 829 9182
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jonathan Deal Chairman Treasure the Karoo Action Group
076 838 5150

Esmarie Prinsloo Head: Media Liaison AfriForum
Cell: 072 332 9824
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
"SA communities gearing up to challenge shale gas mining" July 3, 2013

Organisations and communities across South Africa and internationally, are coalescing to oppose shale gas mining (fracking). Ms. Jeanie Le Roux, director of Operations at TKAG stated that “International and local debate surrounding the controversial technology has revealed that there is and alternate view to what Royal Dutch Shell has been telling South Africans.” A recent gathering of lobby groups, academics, civic and faith-based organizations conferred in Steytlerville, in Eastern Cape, to discuss fracking. The dialogue, organized by the Southern Cape Land Committee, produced a resolution to strengthen the voice of local communities who are expected to bear the brunt of the impact of fracking.

TKAG has this week, been informed that a national conference of the Khoi people of South Africa held in Graaff-Reinet at the end of June, delivered a resolution opposing shale gas mining in South Africa. It is expected that this will be confirmed by the Khoi people in national media in due course.

Commenting on the transformation of leadership in TKAG, Le Roux announced that Pastor Barry Wuganaale, an international activist and faith leader would assume Chairmanship of TKAG, supported by Mr. Daantjie Japhta, ex mayor and resident of Graaff-Reinet in the position of Vice Chair. Current chairman, Jonathan Deal has been appointed as Chief Executive. “We welcome Pastor Wuganaale and Mr. Japhta to our team and have great confidence in their ability to advance the objectives of a new, national alliance against shale gas mining,” she said.

Turning to statements made by Minister Shabangu, and the chairperson of the ANC Economic Transformation Committee - Enoch Godongwana, TKAG said “The government is, in our view, ill-equipped, to run ahead of the complex and dynamic process, and the public consultation that must precede the decision to licence – or not licence fracking in South Africa. Mr Godongwana’s reference to the governmental task team report and gas estimates are premature. High-ranking government officials should know better than to make wildly inaccurate statements when dealing with issues of this complexity, scale and magnitude. It is unthinkable that individuals in government can commit South Africa to this decision. TKAG is fully prepared, with the valuable support and commitment of Afriforum to drive this issue to the Constitutional Court.”

“There are significant, credible, unresolved questions surrounding shale gas mining in South Africa, which point to a need for robust research before reaching a conclusion on shale gas.”

Le Roux said that TKAG is ideally placed to develop a broad platform on which historically diverse interests and groups can unite against shale gas mining in South Africa. “We have firm commitments from groups across the social, environmental and agricultural spectrum to join in a determined opposition.”



To support TKAG – SMS “Karoo” to 42030 to donate R30 (network fees apply)

For more information please contact:
Jonathan Deal
Chairman - Treasure Karoo Action Group
cell: 076  838 5150 – alternate 023-358-9902
e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

"Karoo Lobby group criticises Deputy President on shale gas position June 25, 2013

“In the face of very recent international developments connected to shale gas mining it is unthinkable that a senior government leader in South Africa should make such an ill-considered statement.” This was the view of the Treasure Karoo Action Group in reaction to a SAPA report that quoted Deputy President Kagalema Mothlanthe as saying that "In addition, we have abundant shale gas resources, the commercial exploitation of which we have to investigate and pursue."
Chairman, Jonathan Deal stated that whilst the group was encouraged by the Deputy President’s views on solar energy and offshore gas deposits, his remarks about the potential for "positive economic spin-offs" from the accelerated exploration of shale gas in the Karoo, were in the opinion of the group, disconnected with reality, and premature. TKAG holds that there are significant, credible concerns about shale gas mining that remain unresolved in South Africa. The task team report that formed the basis of the decision to lift the moratorium in September, lacked input from key ministries that would directly be affected by shale gas extraction, including the Departments of Agriculture, Tourism, Rural Development and Land Reform, Transport and many others. No public consultation has taken place on the matter, despite promises made by the Minister of Mineral Resources.
The timeline involved to bring the controversial and risky technology of hydraulic fracturing to production in SA is well in excess of ten years. Moreover, argued Deal, the United States Environmental Protection Agency had just announced another 2 year extension to its investigation on hydraulic fracturing – citing 2016 as the revised delivery date. “If the EPA is not prepared to bow to oil and gas industry pressure in the US and give shale gas mining a green light in terms of environmental impact, water pollution and public health, how is it that the deputy President can speak of accelerated exploration of shale gas in the Karoo?”
We are well aware of the plans of the government to alter legislation to centralize and fast-track environmental impact assessments under the department of Minerals. “This is such a blatant conflict of interest that it defies belief.”
Shale gas extraction is a complex and broad subject. The first three applications for exploration in South Africa spanned an area that covered about a fifth of the country. Many unknowns, uncertainties and significant public concerns point to a need for robust research before reaching a conclusion in favour of shale gas. “At this time we can find no plausible reason to support shale gas mining – and especially the issue of exploration licenses in SA. If this goes down to the wire, it will ultimately end up in the Constitutional Court, concluded TKAG.”
For enquiries on this release or more details on TKAG please contact our offices at
021-824-2935. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Urgent queries can be directed to Jonathan Deal on 076-838-5150 or 023-358-9902
"Energy minister 'way off mark'" May 15, 2013

Reacting to statements by Minister Peters in Cape Town on May 14, Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) stated that Minister Peters was ‘way off the mark’. Group chairman, Jonathan Deal, argued, “I’m not sure that Minister Peters and I visited the same place.”

Deal had just returned from a 5 week tour of the United States where he spent a significant amount of time in Pennsylvania, personally filming fracking operations by day and by night, and interviewing families negatively affected by shale gas mining.

“I have seen it, heard it, and smelt it. I have showered in the stinking water and stayed with families who cannot drink their own well water. I have seen the divisions and discord that this process has sowed in once united local communities. I have stood in front of family homes – houses now deserted and owned by the oil and gas companies who polluted the water.”

Responding to the opinion attributed to the Minister that shale gas mining “would probably go ahead” and that “within five years, the country would know what resources it was endowed with,” TKAG commented that Minister Peters is not in a position to run ahead of the comprehensive and inclusive national evaluation that should precede shale gas mining in South Africa.

Similarly, Royal Dutch Shell, leading the charge, has failed not only to prove their case economically and scientifically but has also been shown by TKAG to be lying to South Africans about shale gas mining.

“We continue to be astounded by the arrogance and deceitfulness of a global company in attempting to manipulate our government and people in order to achieve their own ends, said TKAG.”

Referring to Minister Peters’ reference to a regulatory environment, Deal added “not even in the United States and more especially in South Africa can we expect to keep tabs on this industry, which has a well-deserved reputation for breaking rules, concealing incidents and denying culpability.”

“For more than two and a half years the issues surrounding shale gas mining in South Africa have been debated backwards and forwards. During that time our government, lead by the Department of Minerals, has failed to properly address the issues surrounding this potentially irreversible decision. We are absolutely convinced, for many reasons, that shale gas mining is an unnecessary, risk-filled and destructive process for South Africa, and that jobs and revenue created by the process will generate meagre benefits compared to the long-term cost that will be borne by current and future generations.

“Being awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for Africa has facilitated the expansion of our campaign to a global level. Governments and industry around the world will soon be faced with the weight of an internationally coordinated opposition. It is time to draw a line between corporate greed and the future of Africa,” concluded Deal.

"South African environmentalist honoured in California" May 7, 2013


Sacramento, California

South African Environmentalist honored in California

Leader of Treasure Karoo Action Group and Goldman Environmental prize recipient, Jonathan Deal was received by the California State Senate in Sacramento on May 6. The visit to California comes at the end of a five-week US tour during which Deal visited communities across the country that have experienced shale gas drilling.

Deal’s written address about fracking, to the State of California, where shale oil and shale gas drilling is currently under debate, was distributed to the Senate members as part of a formal appearance and introduction on the Senate Floor, where the South African flag was raised for the occasion.

In the statement, Deal said that his focus had been on learning firsthand about shale gas and shale oil fracking through the eyes of Americans and that he had met with politicians, scientists, legal professionals, industry consultants and the man on the street, both for and against. Citing this experience, he said that he could find no good reason to support this controversial technology and its reliance on an unsustainable resource.

Describing the resource itself as rapidly depleting, he said that “fracking carries with it significant environmental risk, far-reaching secondary costs to tax payers, and locks economies - both developing and developed - into a further dependence on fossil fuels.”

Turning to alternatives, he added that fracking firmly delays the emergence of renewable technologies, and that the world would have to rely on renewable energy at some point in the future.

The written address concluded with a plea to the California Senate to fully consider the net negative effect of embracing the model propagated by the oil and gas industry – a model that Deal said “will see the future prosperity of young Americans traded for short-term gains.” He expressed a hope that the people of California would encourage and support the Senate to choose sustainability over the false promise of a solution to the energy and jobs conundrum that faces governments the world over.

Deal will be returning to America in coming months to further international ties that have been established during this visit.



For further information contact Jonathan Deal

US Mobile number 607-33 99 780

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"Fracking activist wins international environmental prize" April 15, 2013

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South African environmental campaigner Jonathan Deal was today awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for his work in the fight against hydraulic fracturing in the Karoo.

Each year, the Goldman Environmental Foundation selects grassroots activists from around the world to honour them for their work. With an individual cash prize of $150 000 (close on R1.5m), it is the largest award for grassroots environmental activism in the world.

Deal received the Prize at an awards ceremony in San Francisco on Monday 15 April, 2013. He is one of six recipients of the award for 2013. Other winners were honoured for their work in marshland restoration, solid waste management, marble mining, and coal plant emissions.

Deal is the second South African to be recognized with the Goldman Prize. Bobby Peek was awarded the Prize in 1998 for his fight against industrial pollution in the South Durban region.

“This award coincided with the end of an especially difficult year in the hard fought campaign against fracking,” said Deal.

“Even though I have had to keep the news to myself since November, it has been an enormous inspiration. I have done nothing in this campaign for my personal benefit, however, the recognition from people on the other side of the world has been a great encouragement. The value of the prize has already manifested itself in our organisation, Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG), because I have been able to pay salaries to staff that have worked for two years without, and commit to other expenses that have assisted us in reaching out to rural communities.”

Deal and the TKAG have received a number of awards in recent months for their campaigning, including the WESSA Special Environmental Award in 2011, winning the NPO category for 2012 at the Mail & Guardian Greening the Future Awards, the Habitat Council’s Annual Environmental Award for 2012, and being selected as a finalist for Enviropaedia’s Eco Warrior Award.

“We fought for – and secured – a moratorium on fracking in South Africa but this was lifted in September 2012. Licences can now be issued at any time, but we will be ready to appeal the issuing of any licences,” said Deal.

The moratorium was lifted following the recommendations of a government appointed task team, whose report suggested that exploration proceed without allowing for horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing, while laws are amended and a monitoring committee is established.

“Due to the fatal flaws in the applicants' environmental management plans and other considerations, TKAG will be opposing any licences that may be granted,” said Deal.

Fracking is a technique used to extract natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth. Environmental groups and many scientists believe this technique degrades the land, pollutes ground water and fouls the air.



-     The GOLDMAN ENVIRONMENTAL PRIZE now in its 24th year, is awarded annually to environmental heroes from each of the world’s six inhabited continental regions. With an individual cash prize of $150,000, it is the largest award for grassroots environmental activism. The Prize was established in 1989 by late San Francisco civic leaders and philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman. Prize winners are selected by an international jury from confidential nominations submitted by a worldwide network of environmental organizations and individuals. For additional information about the Prize and previous winners visit

-     TREASURE KAROO ACTION GROUP (TKAG) opposes the introduction and licensing of shale gas extraction through fracking in South Africa in the face of known impacts and the absence of scientific consensus and proof that shale gas is a responsible and sustainable answer to energy, climate and employment challenges in SA. For additional information, visit

-     High resolution file photographs of Mr Deal are available on request. Images from the prize giving ceremony in the USA will also be made available. To access the pressroom, go to and enter the following credentials: Login: press & password: goldman2013.

Issued by HWB Communications (Pty) Ltd on behalf of the Goldman Environmental Foundation.

For information, please contact:

-     Erin Smith-Cheng                         Jonathan Deal

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Tel: 00 1 415 875 3056              00 1 415 635 1304 (US mobile)

00 1 (650) 224-2463 (mobile)


-     Jenny Park

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Tel: 00 1 415 249 8500

00 1 (415) 867 1166 (mobile)


-     Jeanie Le Roux                     

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.    

072 959 1818 (mobile)

"shell is trying to buy the karoo with a free lunch" February 13, 2013

Reacting to reports of meetings held in Karoo towns by Shell, TKAG chairman, Jonathan Deal said today that TKAG were aware of the recent tactics employed by Shell – referring to the meetings as underhanded. Deal cited an example of a meeting that took place in Murraysburg in February,well attended by people apparently informed in advance by a local municipal official. It is noteworthy, he commented, that there was no advance notice of the meeting in any public place, and that it appeared that only certain people were selected as the audience. In fact, five farmers from the Murraysburg area who did perchance find out about the meeting and attend, had no more than an hour or two of notice.

According to reports, when local farmer Chris Barr asked Shell about the purpose of the meeting, Shell responded that the meeting was to inform and update local communities. Shell was then asked, if that [to inform local communities] was the purpose, why was there no advance notice to the community about the meeting? After what was described by some as a presentation with no new information and no answers, the audience was treated to lunch courtesy of Shell. When presented with various opportunities in 2012, to present to an informed audience with TKAG present, Shell has declined to appear. The company has also cancelled scheduled meetings with national environmental organisations on learning that TKAG would be present.

“Our problem with this underhanded strategy is exactly the same issue we have had with Shell throughout their campaign to sell shale gas mining to South Africans – it is not open, honest and transparent to hold meetings in a town about an issue that affects everyone and only invite certain people,” he added. “What is more, in our [TKAG] experience Shell deliberately overstates benefits and downplays risk, just as they did again in Murraysburg – crucial questions relating to water-sourcing, transport and other issues were answered unsatisfactorily.” Deal said that it was very difficult for a non-profit organisation to compete with the well-funded propaganda machine of Shell and appealed to the public to report any similar activity by Shell or any other oil and gas company.

Meanwhile TKAG have confirmed that their legal team is briefed and ready to respond to any formal move by the government to issue exploration licences for shale gas mining. “A review of international media reports will show that there is a growing public awareness of and resistance to shale gas mining. We believe that Shell is trying to push the technology into South Africa, before the community fully appreciates the risk that fracking poses to the prosperity of this country.”


For more information please contact:
Jonathan Deal
Chairman - Treasure Karoo Action Group
cell: 076  838 5150 – alternate 023-358-9902
e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. <>

"opposition to shale gas mining in SA gathers momentum" December 12, 2012

TKAG chairman, Jonathan Deal today announced that Afriforum and TKAG have joined forces to oppose shale gas exploration and mining in South Africa. “The last two years, during which TKAG has campaigned against shale gas mining in SA have been very challenging for us because of our extremely limited resources. We are very pleased to partner with an organisation that shares our vision of sustainable development for South Africa. The unequivocal support of Afriforum will change things dramatically, and TKAG can now concentrate on the almost certain legal battle which lies ahead.”

Deal added that Afriforum and TKAG will be working together at senior level, and that the legal campaign will be managed by the law firm appointed by TKAG - Cullinan & Associates.



For more information please contact:
Jonathan Deal
Chairman - Treasure Karoo Action Group
cell: 076  838 5150
e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. < >

"south african lobby group cautions international oil and gas conference delegates" November 27, 2012

Speaking at the Southern Africa Oil & Gas Summit in Cape Town, TKAG Chair, Jonathan Deal cautioned delegates not to rush into investment decisions around shale gas mining in South Africa. In an address that included what he described as a sample of the hurdles facing the proponents of shale gas mining in SA, Deal said that in the view of TKAG, the technology was wholly inappropriate for South African conditions and that the applicants and the government would be challenged in the courts.

“Organised industry often accuses environmentalists of standing in the way of development and progress. But our view is that groups like TKAG perform a very valuable function in calling a check on what would otherwise be a headlong rush - into an irreversible decision - by governments eager to appease voters at any cost. I am not convinced that the economics of shale gas mining stack up in favour of the development - in fact I believe that the proponents of fracking have roundly failed to prove their case - and that in contrast to the stated result of helping SA, exploring for shale gas in the Karoo will add little of value compared to the risks of exposing SA unnecessarily to the same hazards and costs that the country would face in production.“

The ‘hurdles’ presented to the conference by TKAG included:

The task team report provided to the SA Cabinet by the Department of Minerals (DMR) as the basis for the Cabinet decision to lift the moratorium on shale gas mining, omits formal comment from South African specialists in, amongst others, the departments of Tourism, Rural Development, Agriculture, Nature Conservation groups, Transport, South African Revenue Services and Health department. “In the absence ofscientific evaluation of and comment on theseaspects, by South African specialists, in the SouthAfrican context, the document is a flawed model onwhich to base a decision on whether or not shale gas mining should be introduced to this country”.

The SA government has an established inability to monitor mining operations, enforce standards of safety and technical compliance, and prosecute offending operators who can and do hire the best international defense with the comparatively vast funds at their disposal. “In 2011/2012, the Departments of Water Affairs and Minerals respectively, acknowledged that there were 53 mines in SA operating without water licenses and more than 5800 abandoned mines which would have to be rehabilitated at the expense of the SA taxpayer. The bill to address an acid mine drainage problem in the town of Carolina has been budgeted at R200 million – again for the SA taxpayer.”

Credible physicians and scientists in the United States have published reports relating to a variety of health concerns for communities and workers close to fracking operations and to those situated within reach of airborne and waterborne pollution. “There has been no formalacknowledgement of these reports by ourgovernment, or by any of the current applicants who wait for their exploration licenses.”

A significant cost to the American taxpayer is the repair, upgrading, and maintenance of state roads as a result of the additional volume of heavy vehicles associated with shale gas mining. A group of six counties in Texas

budgeted $500million for the period 2011 to 2016. “South African roads are already in a marked state of disrepair and barely manage to cope with existing traffic volumes. Law enforcement on SA roads cannot be counted as a strength of the Department of Transport, and even in the US, where the law enforcement agencies are better trained, better equipped and better paid, that country is battling to manage the additional enforcement challenges presented by traffic from shale gas mining.”

Consultation with the South African public from the three applicants and from the SA government has been and is inadequate. “The sequence of events in which Minister Shabangu promised in August 2011 to consult with all of the people before reaching any decision on Shale gas mining, and then lifting the moratorium a year later, with a concurrent promise that the government would ‘now consult with the public’ - does not constitute consultation, or participation – itis a fact that the government has decided toauthorize exploration and the promise ofconsultation is empty.”

“Successful exploration will automatically result in the conversion of licenses to full scale production.

There is no precedent for the DMR halting the conversion of an exploration license to production.”

The Shell-commissioned report from Econometrix is a one sided, over-optimistic extrapolation of US industry furnished data, which ignores significant and readily available figures on state expenditure such as transport costs, health services, the development, training, equipping and maintenance of teams of environmental inspectors, traffic officers, scientists and prosecutors.

There is no discussion of who will pay to build the pipelines and infrastructure to transport gas across SA.

The applicants and our government have failed to acknowledge the bans, moratoria, and restrictions on

Shale gas mining in other places and countries. “This situation cannot simply be dismissed as originating from a handful of hysterical and emotional environmentalists and having no bearing on the SA decision.”

South Africa does not have fracking specific legislation. American regulations based on American laws cannot be imported into SA courts.

The economic model commissioned, paid for and propagated by Shell and apparently endorsed by the government, fails to address even one cost. Shale gas is measured in decades. Sustainable activities, which, on the face of it, in a direct short-term comparison with shale gas, are less impressive, ought to be measured for their long term, renewable potential. The jobs, production revenue and food security value of vegetables, meat, wool, tourism, wine, olives, honey and even the value of fresh drinking water should be calculated in much longer periods than decades. A comparison on this basis may introduce much needed perspective. “The present model is akinto planning a new business by calculating only theprofit on sales, and ignoring input costs.”

“In summary of these facts, it is my position that there are no quick fixes for South Africa. For our government to license exploration in the light of these unresolved issues, knowing and planning that it will open the door to full scale production, is ill-considered and irresponsibly risks the sustainability of future generations.”

Addressing the pillars on which our government's view appeared to rest, Deal observed that the economics had not been adequately or even independently researched. He argued that the figures forwarded thus far, even though cleverly reduced to a fraction of the assumed gas reserves, were useless in the absence of a comparison against real costs, and the economic losses associated with the disruption - actual or potential - of sustainable economic activity.

Commenting on the industry propagated theory that ‘cleaner-burning’ shale gas would solve much of SA’s emissions problems, he cited a November 2012 report from Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) that shows that global carbon emissions need to fall by 5.1% PA, and that shale gas can at best achieve 3%. PWC also stated that there is a clear indication that the pursuit of shale gas is going to delay the onset of renewable energy and green technologies, and lock developing nations into a dependence on fossil fuels.

“World joins South Africans in fight against fracking” September 10, 2012

   Press statement

   Monday, September 10, 2012

              World joins South Africans in fight against fracking


International groups opposed to fracking, in the USA, Europe and Australia, have rallied in support of the Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) in their fight to prevent the government from giving fracking in South Africa the green light.


“The support we have received locally and internationally since the government lifted the moratorium on fracking in South Africa on Friday (September 7) has been overwhelming,” said Jonathan Deal, Chairman of TKAG.


“It is clear that there is widespread abhorrence to this environmentally harmful, potentially polluting form of mining,” he added.


“The harm done by fracking is potentially irreversible - having a negative impact on the environment, affects the health of local communities, and does not deliver sustainably on the promises of job creation, community upliftment and energy provision as claimed by mining companies, such as Royal Dutch Shell, who despite their overt concern with ‘what is good for SA’, are only keen on growing profit,” he said.


International groups which have promised their support to TKAG include Food & Water Watch, FrackAction, Waterdefense, Attac International and Attac France, Artists Against Fracking USA, anti-fracking activists Mark Ruffalo and Josh Fox – producer of the film, Gasland, Fracking Ireland and Lock-the-Gate in Australia. Locally, TKAG is part of a strategic alliance of established NGO’s, including KZN based African Conservation Trust. Deal confirmed that TKAG had significantly also received a vote of support from the Southern Cape Land Committee (SCLC). “The SCLC is a local organisation representing the interests of rural communities. They have been independently outspoken about their opposition to fracking in South Africa.” Fracking opponents in SA are planning a national demonstration in front of Parliament on Saturday September 22nd – Global Anti-Fracking Day.



Fracking has been banned or restricted in 155 jurisdictions throughout the world.


The South African Cabinet announced on Friday that it had decided to lift the moratorium on fracking in the Karoo. The moratorium was endorsed by the SA cabinet in April 2011, followed by the appointment of a task team by minister Shabangu with the purpose of investigating fracking. She announced that the task team would focus, in particular, on the feasibility of fracking as well as its likely impact on the environment.


Since that time the task team has met in total secrecy and consistently refused to make it's composition or findings public. On Friday, September 7th, Cabinet also apparently requested the mineral resources minister to “hold a series of public consultations with interested and affected stakeholders to provide further details”.


Meanwhile, the Treasure Karoo Action Group has pledged to take the fight to oppose fracking in South Africa to the constitutional court.


 “Our research, as well as a legal-scientific review of the environmental management plans (EMP’s) of the three current applicants (Royal Dutch Shell, Bundu and Falcon) has revealed fatal flaws.”  


 “These flaws mean that the plans of the applicants are at odds with various  South African laws and regulations as well as the Constitution of the country.

In addition to this, the internationally critical reputation of fracking, and the rejection of the destructive polluting technology by tens of millions of people in other countries has never been dealt with by our government (despite formal notification of these facts to our cabinet by TKAG) nor by any of the applicants to mine for shale gas in SA”, said Deal.


“It is our conviction that there are other less harmful and more sustainable means – including solar – to create jobs, generate energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A sensible approach now will pay dividends for the future children of this country and enable them to meet their needs.” said Deal.


“We do not have to sacrifice our heath, well being and environment in the short term to line the pockets of foreign oil companies.”


“We simply cannot allow this threat to our water resources, our environment and the health of our communities to be carried out and we will take this fight to the highest court.”




Issued by HWB Communications on Behalf of the Treasure Action Karoo Group

for more information please call:

TKAG Chairman: Jonathan Deal: 076 838 5150

HWB: Communications: Evelyn Holtzhausen: 082 658 6007



“Anti-fracking lobby announces new legal campaign to fight government over shale gas mining” July 31, 2012

Tuesday 31 July 2012


Press Release


Anti-fracking lobby announces new legal campaign to fight government over shale gas mining


The Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) has refocused its legal strategy in preparation for an all out confrontation with the South African Government to prevent fracking in the Karoo.


In addition the group has concluded agreements with like-minded opposition groups to form a broad alliance in opposition to fracking and will be making an announcement on this during the week.


"We have engaged the well established firm of Cullinan & Associates who will bring fresh thinking and decades of experience to our approach at this critical time in our campaign", said Jonathan Deal, Chairman of the Treasure Karoo Action Group.

Last year South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) imposed a moratorium on fracking with the aim of implementing a study into the environmental impact of the controversial form of shale gas extraction, which has been banned, or is under moratorium or restriction in at least 150 jurisdictions around the world.


It is anticipated that DMR technical report will be presented to the Cabinet early in August 2012 after which cabinet will make its decision on whether or not to lift the moratorium and allow exploratory drilling.


Companies that have applied to use the environmentally damaging process, include Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd. and Bundu Oil & Gas (Pty) Ltd.


Fear that the licenses would be granted were raised when Energy Minister Peters noted during a recent departmental meeting that: "It would be wrong for us to not use the resources that God left us with. This is a blessing that God gives us, and we need to exploit for the benefit of the people" before noting that the people of the Karoo were "going hungry."


"We have been preparing for the moratorium to be lifted for a long time," said Deal.


"Now in the run up to the decision by government we are refocusing our efforts to present a high powered, well prepared legal campaign which we believe will halt the minster in her tracks.


"For this we have selected the best legal minds that we can get to assist us to take this matter to the constitutional court if needs be."


"And we believe we have the support of right thinking South Africans as we move forward.”  


"We are not deterred by the fact that a number of people may have been influenced by Shell's relentless pro fracking propaganda regarding the size of the gas deposit to the number of jobs that could be created." said Deal. "We also know that Shell has been less than open with the truth about the irreversible damage to the environment that fracking causes and the figures surrounding jobs.”


"The Government’s dramatic reversal over e-tolling in Gauteng after massive public outcry earlier this year has shown that ordinary people are sick and tired of government riding rough-shod over the will of the people whose lives are most impacted upon by their often ill-considered decisions."


Our message to government is; "if you rule in favour of fracking, under the current circumstances, prepare for a long and costly legal battle as the people who will be most affected fight back ".





Jonathan Deal This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

076-838-5150 or 023-358-9902





and all elected officials in South Africa

and to Shell South Africa

July 3rd 2012

ATTENTION: Honourable Members of the Cabinet


Dear fellow South African. While our country is under the protection of a moratorium on shale gas mining – imposed by yourselves – Shell South Africa continues to doggedly market their plans directly to the elected officials who are subordinate to your authority. It is significant too, that this marketing campaign by Shell is underpinned by duplicity and deceipt.

Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) are in receipt of an email from an employee in a Karoo municipality, which apart from having the name removed to ensure anonymity, is verbatim:

"[I] work for the ***** Municipality in a senior position, and am finding that as much as I would like to participate in the anti-fracking movement, it places me in a bit of a predicament at work, as Shell has gone out of its way to gain our Council's support and with all their promises of socio-economic development, they have also made an impression on the masses. I had one of Shell's people in my office yesterday and they are now going to target Ward Committee members and NGOs. This whole thing makes me sick.

"Unfortunately the marginalized communities are being promised jobs ~ lots of them ~ and all sorts of other wonderful social and economic benefits. Community leaders and local organizations are being targeted and I can guarantee you, they will be influenced to support fracking, no matter at what cost. The whole thing has been politicized and it will be driven at that level.”

As a key stakeholder in the debate surrounding shale gas mining in South Africa, it is our responsibility and our privilege to bring to your attention that the so-called facts about fracking and Shell’s own operations – as put out by Shell, are peppered with material untruths. Specifically, the areas of job creation, water contamination, pollution and environmental damage are misrepresented to you and the elected officials who serve our country. Any person who has been exposed to the Shell campaign in our country is at risk of regarding fracking as a harmless process that has nothing but great benefits for SA. 

We are in possession of evidence, which we are ready to provide in any forum, which will show that Shell SA has been untruthful with South Africa.

We appeal to you to apply great caution in your imminent decision on whether or not to grant Shell and others licences to explore for shale gas in this country, at least until there has been far more detailed investigation and meaningful public consultation.

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Deal





US Media reports have confirmed on June 21st 2012 that Shell have suspended operations in Union Township, Tioga County while they contain and investigate methane and water releases around the Guindon K 706 well pad. A report filed on the website ‘STATEIMPACT’ confirmed: ‘An update on Shell’s potential methane migration problem in Tioga County: Shell company spokeswoman Kelly op de Weegh says a well control team has been called in to help.

“We have both a ground­water protection technical team and a well control team actively working on the origin and cause of the water and methane release.  As a precaution, we have suspended our well completion work on the well pads in the area.  The release – from and near water wells within a hunting club – is not located on any of our well sites.  We are depressurizing gas wells in the larger area in order to reduce pressure sub­surface.  We’re also working operations around the water wells, including excavation in a secured, control zone.”

In 2011 Shell experienced similar problems with gas migration, when according to a report in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, a Charleston Township family's experience with natural gas drilling became the latest story of contaminated well water associated with nearby drilling on the Vandegrift 290 well site. The Gazette reports:

“… Jeremiah Gee, a doctorate candidate at Penn State University lives next door to land that has been leased to Shell for drilling, Gee confirmed that a gas drilling site appeared about 100 yards from a pond on his property and that shortly thereafter the family noticed a change in its well water.

Gee said six natural gas wells have been drilled from the one pad. "They call the whole process of completion activities a cycle," he said he was told by Shell officials. "They go to the end of a horizontal hole, perforate it, frack it, plug it and then move back and repeat the process a dozen or more times…" he added.

Shell had just started perforating two of the bores when the Gees noticed a difference in their water.

Gee said Shell did not stop operations on the wells until the fact that his family could light their tap water on fire was brought to the attention of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Shell began taking steps to "mitigate" the problem.

Gee said the family has spoken to everyone involved with Shell from "the average Joe on up to the operations manager," with less than satisfactory results.

In response to the Gee's dilemma resulting from Vandegrift 290, Shell Communications Specialist Kim Windon, of Warrendale, said that "safety is always priority No. 1."

"There have been issues (with the Gee's water) and we regret any disruption or inconvenience to the family, but as soon as we were aware of the problem, it was important for us to react promptly, responsibly and safely."

“… We are still working to identify the potential source (of the methane)," she said, "but we think that it may have migrated from a shallower Devonian natural gas formation, close to the well pad. Shell has prepared a shallow remediation plan to address the source, and we are looking forward to a conclusive fact based solution," she said.

The Williamsport Sun-Gazette confirmed that Shell representatives met with DEP and presented a remediation plan and enhanced environmental and safety controls …..”

In response to these two incidents involving Shell, Treasure Karoo Action Group observed that it was clear that Shell are not as on top of their game as they claim to be, and that Shell executives have made misleading or untrue statements to South Africans in their marketing of shale gas to SA. “If these incidents occur in South Africa, they can pollute Karoo water aquifers. Water that cannot be regenerated within ten years, given the low rainfall in the area, and if the pollution involves chemicals – as claimed by Prof. van Tonder of the University of Orange Free State, the aquifer may be permanently destroyed. Furthermore, Shell have claimed to be the leaders in their field - if this is true, what could South Africa expect from less ‘competent’ drilling companies who would also qualify for licences to explore and frack?”, asked TKAG chair, Jonathan Deal. “It appears to us that there are still many unanswered questions around Shell’s transparency and competence, and in connection with the technology of fracking in general. Developing news on this latest incident suggests that the problem is far greater than Shell’s classification of it being a ‘methane migration problem’. We emphasize our concern about the lack of expertise and capacity in SA to monitor and regulate an industry that is clearly presenting a major challenge to US environmental organisations. Our government would be well advised to apply the precautionary principle to their decision to allow Shell and others to explore for shale gas in SA.”

In 2011, between February and August, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental protection, Shell were cited for more than 30 environmental violations on fracking sites in the Marcellus shale area.

Meanwhile Chesa­peake Energy  has agreed  to pay $1.6 million in damages to three families in Wyalusing, Bradford County. The case may be the first Marcellus contamination lawsuit to get resolved without a nondisclosure agreement, meaning the parties can speak freely about the case. Todd O’Malley, an attorney for two of the families, says the plaintiffs insisted on not signing a confidentiality agreement. MORE ON THIS FROM TKAG SOON

Issued by Treasure Karoo Action Group.

For information, please contact: Jonathan Deal, chairman: TKAG
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Tel: 076 838 5150/023 358 9902

“National Planning Commission advice to President Zuma is flawed” June 20, 2012

These were the words of Treasure Karoo Action Group chairman, Jonathan Deal in response to a reported statement by the NPC last Friday in which that body advised President Zuma to allow shale gas exploration. “TKAG has met with the NPC and we have a good idea on the information on which their advice to President Zuma is based. It has not been established, in any country in the world, that turning to shale gas as an energy source will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to anywhere near the extent claimed by the oil and gas industry. Nor has the NPC, or any other body in SA moved towards conducting a proper cost-benefit analysis of shale gas within the social, environmental, economic and scientific spectrum,” said Deal.

He argued that “In our view it is bordering on irresponsible, for a body with the clout enjoyed by the NPC to make statements on such an important decision without having fully researched all of the issues. To simply extrapolate the potential energy figures from US estimates and focus on job creation and revenue, based on reports commissioned and paid for by Royal Dutch Shell is short-sighted. There is no answer by Shell or our government, as to why, in more than 146 locations around the world, tens of millions of people - many of whom have experienced the effects of fracking - do not want shale gas mining where they get their drinking water, grow their crops, raise animals, and send their children to school.”

“Moreover”, added Deal, “Recent groundbreaking research by well known geo-hydrologist, Professor Gerrit van Tonder of the Institute of Groundwater Studies, University of the Free State, claims that owing to the unique geology of the Karoo basin, it is a given that pollution of shallow drinking water aquifers will occur over a given period of time. To even obliquely consider exploration – which would realistically lead to full scale fracking - in these unresolved circumstances is to completely ignore the legal requirement, as stipulated in SA’s National Environmental Management Act, of applying the precautionary principle, to decisions where environmental damage can result.”

“Southern Africa has seen a remarkable increase in proven off-shore natural gas reserves and has some of the best solar irradiation on the planet. These two energy sources can also create jobs and generate energy without the risk of polluting the scarce water reserves of SA, damaging the growing tourism industry, and displacing food production from the Karoo and other rural areas – all in pursuit of what is ultimately an unsustainable process. There appears to be a perception that the fantastic figures promised by Shell will solve our problems immediately – but no one is telling the SA public that it would take at least ten to twelve years for the so-called benefits to work their way into the SA economy – and by that time other energy sources could be well up and running, he concluded.


"SA scientist confirms shale wells will pollute groundwater" May 29, 2012

“Prof van Tonder’s statement on the upward migration of fracking fluid into drinking water aquifers is literally ground breaking for South Africa.” These were the words of Treasure Karoo Action Group chairman Jonathan Deal, responding to a report released by Prof. Gerrit van Tonder, of the Institute for Groundwater Studies, University of the Free State.

There is nothing ambiguous about the Professor’s statements – upward migration of fracking fluids to groundwater zones will occur in the Karoo, and cement and steel well casings will inevitably deteriorate and fail over time. According to van Tonder’s calculations, if only 1% of the cement and steel casings of wells to be drilled over the applied area were to fail, it would create thousands of pathways for upward migration to occur. It is not enough for industry to quote a period of 100 years or more for the integrity of a well – this may sound like a long time today, but is actually only the sum of two generations of South Africans,” argued Deal, adding that “These facts are routinely denied or avoided by the applicants to frack in SA and by the oil and gas industry worldwide. We wonder, if for instance, this information is contained within the task team report, which is by all accounts, completed and soon on its way to Cabinet.” 

Deal was speaking from a conference in Johannesburg hosted by the Fossil Fuel Foundation, where he appeared as a presenter and member of the conference technical committee alongside well known scientists Professors Philip Lloyd of Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and Dr. Danie Vermeulen of the Institute for Groundwater Studies.

Deal pointed out that TKAG had long been calling for a comprehensive assessment of fracking in SA across the scientific, environmental, social and economic spectrum, and emphasised that TKAG were extremely concerned about the conspicuous rush of the government to embrace fracking, and the delivery of what could only be an inadequate and poorly researched task team report to Cabinet. “If Minister Shabangu issues licences, even for exploration under these circumstances, she will literally guarantee litigation involving government, the applicants to frack and the South African tax payer.

Scientists from the Institute for Groundwater Studies have been consulted by the government task team on fracking and by the oil and gas industry in SA in connection with plans to mine shale gas here, and Prof. van Tonder has appeared as an expert speaker on this topic at shale gas conferences and presentations to industry and media.

Issued by HWB Communications Pty Ltd, on behalf of Treasure Karoo Action Group.

For information, please contact: Jonathan Deal, chairman: TKAG
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“Karoo lobby group criticizes statements by Energy Minister” May 16, 2012

May 16 2012

Karoo lobby group criticizes statements by Energy Minister

Responding to an article by Donwald Pressley, published in Business Report, May 16, TKAG chairman, Jonathan Deal said that the statements by Minister Peters were short on facts and long on assumptions.


“Minister Peters appears to be of the impression that the Department of Science and Technology has developed a method of shale gas mining that will facilitate fracking without environmental damage and water pollution. This notion is difficult to comprehend, especially in the face of growing international resistance to fracking, which is now banned or under some form of moratorium or restriction in more than 140 places, with Czech Republic Germany and Romania presently considering two-year moratoria on exploration whilst they investigate the technology. The US state of Vermont is also poised to outlaw the process”, said Deal.


Addressing the Minister’s statements, reputedly made at an oil and gas conference on May 15, Deal asserted that the Minister appeared to be simply repeating what had been told to South Africans by Royal Dutch Shell and the oil and gas lobby about shale gas mining. “The reality is that not one of the considerable ancillary risks and costs to South Africa, from shale gas mining have been appropriately addressed by our government in their increasingly frequent utterances on fracking. There has been no public attempt whatsoever to quantify the long term costs (of fracking) to this country,” he said.


“Tourism, damage to roads and traffic control, agriculture, health, environmental monitoring and enforcement and jobs lost due to displaced rural workers seem to be issues that our government is willing to overlook in their rush to set fracking loose in South Africa. By focusing on water as the single issue and extolling energy and revenue benefits, our leaders appear to be deliberately ignoring these critical concerns which are unanswered in other countries,” added Deal.


“As far as we are aware, there is no honest explanation from our government or Royal Dutch Shell, as to why tens of millions of people in other countries, represented by their governments, choose to forego the so-called benefits of fracking. Until governments around the world, including our own Ministers, can answer this question conclusively it is our view that fracking should remain under a moratorium in SA,” concluded Deal.



Issued by HWB Communications Pty Ltd, on behalf of Treasure Karoo Action Group.

For information, please contact: Jonathan Deal, chairman: TKAG
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"Global shale gas moratoriums increase while SA Minister procrastinates" May, 9 2012

“While our government is scrambling to produce a secret document on which this country may make a potentially irreversible decision on shale gas mining ‘fracking’, international sentiment is increasing against the technology. Fracking is banned, or under some form of moratorium or restriction in more than 140 places around the world.” These were the words of TKAG chair, Jonathan Deal who was reacting to a report published May 8 in Moneyweb. According to Moneyweb, the Minister has stated that she intends to submit the report on shale gas mining to Cabinet in July.

“It appears to TKAG, that the Minister has misunderstood the instructions of Cabinet in August 2011, when Cabinet in an unequivocal statement instructed the Minister to [L]ead a multi disciplinary team including the Departments of Trade & Industry , Science and Technology, amongst others, to fully research the full implications of the proposed fracking.” The original team chosen by the Minister does not give effect to the expectation of a ‘multi-disciplinary team’ as it excluded Ministries whose input is critical to a thorough investigation into the costs and benefits of shale gas mining. Departments such as Health, Transport, Agriculture, Tourism, Rural Development, and initially, even Environmental Affairs were excluded. We also have grave reservations about the time period in which Minister Shabangu purports to have completed the investigation, the scientific expertise of the team, the amount of research conducted and the areas of research and scientific data applied,” said Deal.

“America, is taking four years to complete a similar investigation, the second time around. We are puzzled as to how SA can accomplish this in much less than a year, sans essential input from directly affected departments, and from the other side of the Atlantic. The manner in which this process is being managed and the fact that TKAG had to sue the Minister for information to which any citizen was entitled, is causing our apprehension of the Shell – ANC link to increase.”

During 2012 Shell released various reports to the public which made claims regarding alleged public opinion, and of claimed vast benefits to SA from shale gas mining. Commenting on the reports Deal said “The Minister must surely be aware that her department must issue or decline exploration licences on the facts contained within the written applications of Shell, Bundu and Falcon – these reports are not only biased and inaccurate, they are premature and should be ignored. TKAG has repeatedly requested a thorough cost-benefit analysis of shale gas mining for SA. This process cannot ignore knock-on costs to roads, health, tourism and other revenue centres as well as the sustainable value of our agricultural sector and the rand value and scarcity of drinking water. We deplore the lack of transparency and the narrow focus of Minister Shabangu in managing a process of such import to present and future South Africans”


Issued by HWB Communications Pty Ltd, on behalf of the Treasure Karoo Action Group.Tel: 021 462 0416/ 079 500 1503 For information, please contact: Jonathan Deal Chairman: TKAG
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"Karoo group cautions NPC on fracking" March 15, 2012

The National Planning Commission is wrong to consider mining for shale gas in the Karoo when there are more viable, known gas deposits to be exploited, which will be far less threatening to the environment.

This is the view of TKAG Chairman, Jonathan Deal, in response to a report by Minister Trevor Manuel that the NPC saw natural gas providing a rising share of the energy mix.
"Natural gas undoubtedly has a role to play in the energy mix of South Africa. Deposits such as the 2.5tcf (trillion cubic feet) held by Forest Exploration International off South Africa’s west coast is a prime example of a supply that could keep the Western Cape in gas for decades. "

"And this is miniscule compared to the reported finds off Mozambique", he added.

"And Royal Dutch Shell are making plans to explore off-shore in the Orange River basin"
According to Deal, "The point is that South Africa has a viable alternative to fracking. Offshore, natural gas can be developed faster and bypass the plethora of strategic and environmental issues that are facing proponents of shale gas mining”.

“TKAG met with the NPC in February and highlighted a number of concerns in relation to the debate on whether or not it would be in the interests of SA to pursue this technology. Notwithstanding any other of the issues raised at this meeting, the inescapable fact that Minister Shabangu’s task team has taken less than 6 months to complete an investigation that is taking America four years, militates against the issue of exploration licences in SA.”
"Our Cabinet promised in April 2011 that ‘the full implications’ of shale gas mining would be ‘fully investigated’ and that ‘clean environment together with all the ecological aspects will not be compromised’.
“It would be irresponsible of any person with an understanding of the real facts of shale gas mining to stand by and permit the technology to be licensed in this country until a thorough strategic evaluation and a cost-benefit analysis have been completed”.

"Even Shell’s own consultants recommended that no decision should be made before the Americans had decided in their own country”, concluded Deal.


"Demand to "shelve" shale gas fracking - for now" March 6, 2012

“We call on Minister Shabangu, to indefinitely extend the moratorium on shale gas mining, and on Royal Dutch Shell, Bundu and Falcon Oil & Gas to shelve their plans for shale gas mining at this time pending a thorough and inclusive strategic environmental assessment, underpinned by a detailed cost-benefit analysis.”

This was the call from South African lobby, Treasure Karoo Action Group.

Chairman, Jonathan Deal stated that TKAG would not accept a ‘rushed investigation into fracking’, pressured by Shell propaganda. “Assertions that shale gas will solve South Africa’s energy, employment and Greenhouse Gas emissions, are subject to scientific controversy and ought to be thoroughly tested,” he said.

“In April last year, our Cabinet issued Minister Shabangu with unequivocal instructions with regard to fracking, and we expect the Minister to give effect to those instructions. The status quo in parts of America and other countries where fracking is banned, or under various restrictions and moratoria demands serious consideration – to the extent that South Africa should not licence a process that is itself under investigation in countries where it is underway.  In the event that Minister Shabangu issues exploration licences under the current status quo, we will look to the courts for protection.”

"TKAG rejects Economic report on shale gas" March 3, 2012

Responding to a press release from Econometrix on the assumed benefits of shale gas for South Africa, TKAG Chair, Jonathan Deal, described the report as poorly researched in respect of the holistic facts on shale gas mining and lacking in substance. “The fact that this report has been commissioned by Shell earnestly dents the credibility of the document. Shell, at the same time that they were telling the South African public how open, honest and transparent they are, were cited for 37 environmental violations at fracking sites in Pennsylvania between February and August last year,” he said.

“It is remarkable that in the light of current scientific and economic controversy in the US around the so-called cost-benefits of shale gas, Econometrix have the confidence to assume this position. The findings are lacking in balance to the extent that one must call the objectivity and credibility of the analysis into question”. 

“Nowhere is there a reference to jobs that may be lost due to mining activity. The study lists knock-on benefits, but does not make any attempt to quantify the knock-on costs to South Africans – relating to damaged road infrastructure, health remediation costs, pollution remediation and environmental monitoring and enforcement of standards – to mention a few areas.”

“If this report were to be taken seriously, South Africa’s energy, employment and Green House Gas emissions challenges are a thing of the past. Interestingly, the team at Sasol appear to disagree with these findings – the global fuel company withdrew last November, from plans to frack in South Africa, stating that in their opinion “shale gas is twenty years too early in SA,” argued Deal.

In closing, Deal said that; “TKAG has been calling for a thorough cost-benefit analysis framed in a strategic environmental assessment since the advent of applications by Shell et al. It should be remembered that the legal and environmental process will run its course before any drilling activity, even exploration, can be lawfully licensed. The status quo with the three current applicants, in the opinion of TKAG, is that their final environmental management plans are flawed and will not stand up to scientific scrutiny. Moreover, Minister Shabangu has a clear instruction from Cabinet regarding the moratorium on fracking and that is that Cabinet has made it very clear that clean environment together with all the ecological aspects will not be compromised”

“Fracking survey results questioned” February 20, 2012

Local anti-fracking lobby, Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) today dismissed the results of an IPSOS Markinor opinion survey, as to whether or not South Africans want fracking.

Jonathan Deal, chairman of TKAG stated, “On the face of it, and without an untimely debate on this technical and controversial technology, we dismiss the report results on, inter alia, the following points:

1.                   The technology of hydraulic fracturing, even when explained to an audience generally more informed than a randomly selected interviewee, is technical and challenging to describe. We reject the implied premise that the process can be introduced in a short space of time on the basis of introductory or contextual statements. In support of this argument, we offer our own experience in public meetings hosted by Shell, during which the explanation of fracking consumed, in some instances, almost two hours. We are doubtful that the sampled persons were afforded this opportunity.

2.                   The issues raised as questions for interviewees appear to address only the very broadly debated points of energy, jobs, water and pollution. Other equally important aspects and risks relating to hydraulic fracturing appear not to have been raised, or considered.

3.                   There appears to be no mention made of the fact that in September of 2011 fracking was banned or under some form of moratorium or restriction in almost 100 places. It would perhaps have been a relevant question to ask interviewees if they had any idea as to why the technology would be so unpopular with people living close to it, in view of the so-called benefits of job creation and energy.

4.                   In our view, the fact that Shell are listed as having commissioned the report throws a negative light on the results. Shell are recorded in South Africa in 2011, as having being found in breach of advertising standards by propagating false and misleading statements about fracking to the South African public. We suggest that it would have been prudent of Shell to include NGO’s such as TKAG in the planning of the survey, and especially the wording of the introductory text and questions.

5.                   South Africa is in the middle of the ‘fact-based’ phase of an investigation into shale gas mining, in terms of which the Minister of Minerals and her ‘task team’ will be required to arrive at a recommendation for Cabinet, as to whether or not to licence fracking in SA. This means that Minister Shabangu must base her recommendations only on the contents of the final Environmental Management Plans as submitted by the applicants. Opinion polls and certain value-based statements by proponents or opponents of fracking, that fail to appropriately and factually address the issues to be considered by Minister Shabangu are irrelevant for the purposes of informing the minister’s decision on exploration licences. If the debate, through legal action or other processes, finds it’s way to the Constitutional Court – the forum on which our public rely in law for their opinion to be heard, then the ‘value-based’ opinion of the South African public will be of relevance.

6.                   Even were the reported results of the survey, against shale gas mining, we would have to reject the results on the basis of our argument.”

"International anti-fracking coalition established" February 16, 2012

“A bridge has been built between the United States and South Africa in the global anti-fracking movement”. This according to US actor Mark Ruffalo, who revealed that anti-fracking lobby group Water Defense and South African Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) have formalized their relationship. Ruffalo confirmed that he had accepted a position on the board of TKAG and that TKAG chairman, Jonathan Deal would join the board of Water Defense.


“Fracking is a global threat and it requires a global response. A year ago, because of what was happening in the US, South Africans were able to alert their government to the risks of fracking, and they succeeded in putting the brakes on the process in their country. Now there is international interest in what happens with licence applications to frack in South Africa”, said Ruffalo. We intend to cooperate with and support TKAG on all levels, including ensuring that fundraising efforts are directed where they are most needed. It is a fact that environmental NGO’s have to oppose global giant corporations who have virtually unlimited budgets to push their corporate agendas. We believe that this first bridge will result in an effective global coalition between continents, countries and ordinary people opposing fracking”.


TKAG chairman, Jonathan Deal commented that the development was ‘one of the most exciting accomplishments in the anti-fracking fight’, and that it ‘considerably enhanced’ the local lobby group’s ability to oppose fracking in South Africa.




About Water Defense

The American NGO connects the dots between the movements working to stop mountain top removal, hydro fracking, tar sands mining, and other destructive practices that threaten our dwindling global supply of clean water. Founded by actor Mark Ruffalo, Water Defense engages renowned cultural figures, produces educational events, and informs the public, through traditional and social media to raise awareness, drive policy change, and end our fossil fuel addiction by demanding sustainable solutions. Additional information at



As at February 16 2012 fracking is banned or under some form of moratorium or restriction in 108 places and 5 countries. [ABOUT TKAG: Treasure the Karoo Action Group represents a broad range of stakeholders who are concerned with the plans of Oil and Mining companies to extract shale gas from the Karoo basin. Popular support can be followed and joined on Facebook and at the web address]

Issued by Water Defense, 28 Marcy Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11211.

Email: Ms. Betta Broad - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tel: 347-223-4385


In South Africa:

HWB Communications Pty Ltd - Tel:  +27 21 462 0416
Email: Jonathan Deal - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tel +27 76 838 5150

"Minister of Minerals files papers at the 11th hour" January 31, 2012

Treasure Karoo Action Group chairman Jonathan Deal, confirmed that Minister of Minerals Susan Shabangu filed her answering affidavit in Pretoria today. "We have been calling for information regarding the task team since April last year and thus we are pleased by the fact that we have now received some form of response from Minister Shabangu, albeit at the eleventh hour and in the form of an answering affidavit, said Deal.


"It is a pity that we had to sue the Minister to have her explain her position to us but at least we are now one step closer to enabling South Africans to have access to information that may dramatically affect certain of their basic human rights.  We are now merely waiting on our legal team to consider the arguments contained in the Minister's papers before we take our next step towards removing the veil of secrecy that has for many months been surrounding the task team on hydraulic fracturing," he concluded.





As at this date fracking is banned or under some form of moratorium or restriction in a minimum of 97 places, including 6 countries.

"Canadian fracking blowout sends dire warning to SA" January 17, 2012

A fracking well blow-up in a well in Canada ought to be seen as a warning shot fired across the bows of fracking in South Africa.

This is the opinion of Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) group Chairman, Jonathan Deal who said;  “This incident demonstrates precisely why we have raised  serious concerns  about fracking in South Africa.  We simply cannot allow any threat to South Africa’s water resources, never mind the  other very real dangers this process offers.”

Fracking is currently banned or under some form of moratorium or restriction in more than 90 places, including five countries.

"Here we have a situation where people in North America and Canada are, on a daily basis  are force to live with polluting incidents and accidents. There can be no possible justification for the South African government to invest any more time on even considering fracking in this country until issues such as these have been settled by scientific consensus and an inclusive national debate,” said Deal.

 "If  the South African government lifts the moratorium and issues any form of exploration licence for fracking under the current circumstances, the only recourse open to TKAG will be to seek the protection of our courts.”

 The TKAG is opposed to fracking in South Africa before independent comprehensive scientific research has been conducted, showing exactly what the impact of fracking could be.
Deal's comments relate to a widely reported well blowout on January 13 in Calgary, Canada. The blowout is currently being investigated by the provincial energy regulator (ERCB) in Canada.

 In this incident, fracking fluid, under pressure from a well belonging to another company travelled through fault lines and fissures until it breached an older well hundreds of metres away, causing the fluid [under pressure] to blow out of that well.

 Cara Tobin, board spokeswoman for the Canadian government said, “(my) understanding is that it appeared the fracking process affected the other well”. The ERCB admitted to press, “[E]RCB is aware of similar incidents of "communication" between wells as a result of fracking”.

 ‘Communication’ is an event in which the fracking process creates pressure, which escapes into an underground fault system.

 “The fluids used to achieve the fracking process then travel along natural fissures and weaknesses in surrounding rock until they migrate into an area where the pressure is absorbed. In this case, the path was to a well hundreds of metres away, and according to reports the different pressure caused that well to blowout,” said Deal.

Meanwhile, a retired Canadian mining engineer, Don Bester, who currently chairs the Alberta Surface Rights Group, said, “We’re concerned that these things are going to start damaging aquifers. If they hit another well, like this one here, what if they [communicate] and put all that frac (sic) fluid into an aquifer and destroy it?”.

Bester is concerned that ‘[frack propagate out so far that if they hit one of these natural fracture systems, they will just follow the natural channel straight up from a high pressure zone to a low pressure zone.’ And his view is supported by Matt Horne, a director of the Pembina Institute – a Canadian Environmental think-tank - “Incidents like this and the recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study about activities in Wyoming, all add weight to concerns being raised about hydraulic fracturing.”

"Court victory for Karoo anti-fracking group" January 9, 2012

Minerals Minister Susan Shabangu has until January 31, this year to reveal the names and details of the government "task team" appointed to probe fracking in the Karoo.
Today (January 9) Judge du Plessis, in the North Gauteng High Court,  granted an order that the Minister and the Director-General must file answering affidavits by no later than 31 January 2012.
The Minister was also instructed to pay costs.

Jonathan Deal, Chairperson of the Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG), which is calling for detailed, independent scientific research before licenses are granted to oil companies to frack for gas in the Karoo, said the decision was a "victory" for all South Africans.  The TKAG first wrote to the Minister requesting information regarding the task team in April last year.

"In spite of various letters to the Minister, as well as making formal application for access to the relevant information under the PAIA, the Minister declined to answer TKAG's questions regarding the task team.
"Finally, the judiciary has given a ruling that may well, as a minimum, force the Minister to explain her reluctance as regards granting access to the relevant information,” said Deal.

"Our persistence and courage in standing up against government and the oil industry has paid off.

"But this is by no means the end of our struggle to force the government and oil companies to act responsibly.
"We cannot allow fracking to go ahead when there are so many unanswered questions not least about health and the possibility of irreversible pollution of underground water resources," said Deal.

* Deal appealed to South Africans to help fund the TKAG. "We have limited resources and need as much assistance as we can get to compel the government and the oil companies to act responsibly, " he said.

"Alarming study finds "fracking" chemicals in groundwater" December 12, 2011

Water pollution report sends shockwaves through shale gas industry

In a shock report that has sent shockwaves through the global oil and gas industry, the US Environmental Protection Agency has found fracking as the likely source of contamination of groundwater in the state of Wyoming, USA.

The finding is based on a three-year study of groundwater contamination near the town of Pavillion.

The deep water well monitoring study  found that synthetic chemicals, such as glycols and alcohols consistent with gas production had been detected as well as  hydraulic fracturing fluids, including highly noxious benzene concentrations well above Safe Drinking Water Act standards. The study also reported high methane levels.

The EPA said in the report that it is "concerned about the movement of contaminants within the aquifer and the safety of drinking water wells over time."

The report included the EPA findings on Private and Public Drinking Water Wells in the Pavillion area of Wyoming and confirmed that 'chemicals detected in the most recent samples are consistent with those identified in earlier EPA samples and include methane, other petroleum hydrocarbons and other chemical compounds."

“The presence of these compounds is consistent with migration from areas of gas production"

Treasure Karoo Action Group chairman, Jonathan Deal said, "This report is enormously significant in the debate on hydraulic fracturing in South Africa."
There are more than a thousand cases, especially in the US, where fracking is blamed for groundwater contamination, but the oil and gas industry consistently claim that that they are unaware of any documented cases.
"The industry hides behind jargon and avoids the facts that are generally accepted  and in the public realm."

"After this damning report, which follows other simmilar reports, it is no longer possible for those championing fracking to make the claim that they are unaware of documented cases of groundwater contamination," he concluded.

(for more details of report see:

"Leaked US report reveals 'ominous' impact on roads from fracking" December 7, 2011

A confidential US report on the transport impact of fracking has direct  and dire implications for South Africa.
This is the opinion of Jonathan Deal, Chairman of the Treasure Karoo Action Group, which is calling on  government to do proper research before allowing fracking to take place in the Karoo in particular and South Africa in general.
His comments follow a “leaked”  New York State Department of Transport (NYSDOT)  report claiming that the potential transport impact of fracking is “ominous.”
The report was prepared  for discussion in the office of the Governor of New York State, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC).
 “Assuming current gas drilling technology and a lower level of development than will be experienced in Pennsylvania, the Marcellus region will see a peak year increase of up to 1,5-million heavy truck trips, and induced development may increase peak hour trips by 36,000 trips per hour.”
Commenting on the conclusions of the report, Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) chair, Jonathan Deal said “We flagged this concern as just one of many potential impacts on South African tax payers months ago.
This information supports the call by concerned South Africans for a wide-ranging investigation into the sustainability and suitability of shale gas for this country. Royal Dutch Shell claim that shale gas will solve South Africa’s energy, employment and emission problems, but we have a different view based on the experiences of other countries and the empirical data that emerges on a daily basis.”
He said that TKAG would forward a copy of the report to the office of the Minister of Transport in South Africa.
TKAG concluded that it was regrettable that Minister Susan Shabangu had elected not to share the work of the ‘fracking task team’ with South Africans, as ‘we have no knowledge of whether or not critical documents such as this report will be taken into account.’
The US report, not intended for public viewing, concludes:  “…. It will be necessary to reconstruct hundreds of miles of roads and scores of bridges and undertake safety and operational improvements in many areas…” Addressing the financial impact just within New York State, the document confirms “… the annual [not total] costs to undertake these transportation projects range from $90 mil - $156 mil for state roads and $121 mil - $222 mil for local roads. There is no mechanism in place allowing state and local government to absorb these additional costs without major impacts to other programmes and other municipalities in the State.”

The report recently appeared on the website of the Chenango, Delaware and Otsego Gas Drilling Opposition Group and it can be viewed and downloaded at

"Anti-fracking lobby gains support in KZN" December 5, 2011

Environmental lobby group Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG), confirmed today that the national resistance to fracking had been strengthened with the addition of a KZN based team. "Craig Elstob, a Durban-based businessman, and Karoo author with strong links to the Karoo community in the Beaufort West region has agreed to join forces with TKAG," said Jonathan Deal, chair of TKAG.

"Mr Elstob has been visibly involved around the country educating farmers and the general public about the technology of fracking, and we are encouraged by this strong representation in KZN. Essentially, the functions that TKAG has developed and which we maintain at considerable effort and cost will be rolled out to the KZN community. Mr. Elstob will assume a position on the TKAG board and his support is a valuable addition to our campaign." Deal said that the fact that SASOL had recently indicated its decision not to frack in South Africa should not be a reason for KZN to believe that the fracking risk has disappeared. "As far as we are aware, if SASOL fails to make use of the exploration area, it will be available to other applicants," he said.

“Environment lobby welcomes SASOL’s decision not to frack Karoo” December 1, 2011

Sasol's decision this week not to pursue hydraulic fracturing (Fracking) for shale gas in the Karoo has been welcomed by the Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG).

The TKAG is leading the fight against the exploitation of the Karoo by mining companies before independent scientific research has been conducted.

“We welcome SASOL’s decision, particularly as the company appears to have taken time to actually listen to the people of the Karoo and acknowledge their concerns.

“Our aim is to convince Shell and other companies who have also applied for exploration rights show the same genuine concern for the people who live in the areas that they propose to exploit and whose livelihoods and health could be placed in jeopardy  as a result of fracking,” said Jonathan Deal Chairman of TKAG,

 “ We call on all residents of the Karoo and our supporters and members to join TKAG in congratulating SASOL on a responsible and sensitive decision. We hope that this action by a global player in the energy field will act as  a wake-up call to Royal Dutch Shell and other companies who still pursue their applications to frack in South Africa.”

"Karoo action group supports youth leagues' call for investigation into fracking" November 28, 2011

Fracking is not and will never be a purely political issue that can be "owned" by any political party.

This is the opinion of Treasure Karoo Action Group, (TKAG) Chairperson Jonathan Deal who said that the technology, presently under some form of ban, moratorium or restriction at more than 80 locations word wide, and in five countries, "has the potential to impact on every person in South Africa, irrespective of political persuasion.”

Deal was responding to reports on Monday (November 28) that the Western Cape Branch of the ANC Youth League supports initiatives to investigate the viability of fracking across the province.

Fracking- a highly controversial method of extracting gas from deliberately fracturing shale deep underground - has the potential to cause huge environmental damage, including underground water pollution — and impact negatively on the health of people living in communities near drilling operatjons and in the production process.

At the weekend, according to reports, Western Cape ANC Youth League member, Luvo Makasi — following an ANCYL regional general councils' meeting —  said that the league supports initiatives to investigate the viability of fracking across the province…”

“We are pleased to note that the ANCYL appears only to have spoken of investigating the viability of fracking. This dovetails with the recent legal action launched by TKAG against the Minister of Minerals in connection with her department’s refusal to share information relating to fracking with the general public.”

“We have been expecting the question of fracking to emerge in a political statement for some months, and are of the view that it is to the credit of our government that there has been no political pronouncement on it thus far.”

"The statement by the ANCYL, does not, in our view, take a firm stance in favour of fracking going ahead, but calls rather for further study or investigation.”

"As the TKAG recently pointed out, even the NPC is not in a position to make a judgement call on this highly controversial technology in South Africa at this time.”

"We believe that it will be years, rather than months, before the scientific facts have been thoroughly evaluated in this country, and only after that can a rational decision about fracking be made,“ concluded Deal.

All existing and future applications to apply any form of fracking in South Africa are presently under a Cabinet sanctioned moratorium.

Hold on controversial plans to mine Karoo for gas "must be extended" November 23, 2011

The moratorium on shale gas mining in the Karoo ought to be extended pending a rigorous national strategic assessment of the technology and it's implications for South Africa.
This was the consensus at a debate yesterday (November 22) in Port Elizabeth titled, Strategic Conversations - Fracking in the Karoo.
The event, hosted by the business school of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) was the first of its kind in the country, effectively juxtaposing environmental lobby group Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) against Royal Dutch Shell, with qualified contribution from NMMU Prof Maarten De Witt and Mr. Andrew Muir, Chair of Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber and CEO of the Wilderness Foundation.
Jonathan Deal, chairman of TKAG, De Witt and Muir in their opening statements, voiced their belief that the technology of fracking and any applications to mine shale gas must remain on ice for an extended period on the basis of the unknown implications of fracking in South Africa. 
"This controversial technology requires multiple and independent lines of scientific analysis, a meaningful public awareness campaign by government and an inclusive national strategic debate facilitated by an independent government task team. 
"Taking into account the current state of misinformation and the refusal of the DMR to cooperate with requests for information, we are of the view that it would be unlawful for the minister to issue an exploration licence," said Deal.
Prof. De Witt, a geo-hydrologist, called for a minimum extension to the moratorium of two to three years and suggested that the oil and gas companies should not be involved in any phase of the evaluation of the technology during the moratorium. 
De Witt added that if and when the process of exploration began, the companies would need to be independently supervised by experts because they could not be trusted to police their own operations.
He concluded by saying that an area which had thus far been absent from this debate was the 'absolutely enormous impact' on social services that would result from 'not thousands, but hundreds of thousands of trucks' running through the Karoo, which presented social challenges and opportunities.
There was focus during the debate on Royal Dutch Shell and their persistence in denying that the company is not aware of even one instance of pollution of groundwater from fracking. 
Speaking directly to Jan-Willem Eggink, Shell Upstream manager for Africa, Deal said "It is time for Shell to stop hiding behind the trite industry claim of 1 million wells over sixty years and not one problem.”
"I put it to you that no one can do any mechanical operation over 60 years, a million times in a row without making even one error." 
"There are many documented instances of pollution from fracking, and for Shell to continue to deny this does little to alleviate our distrust of the oil and gas industry." 
Deal said "the statistic of 1 million wells does not belong to Shell alone, with the biggest single driller in the US - Chesapeake having done only 4100 wells in which horizontal fracking was applied."
The debate was moderated by Prof Piet Naude and attended by members of the  public and the academic fraternity, including the Vice Chancellor of NMMU, Prof Derrick Swartz, the head of the business school, Prof. Burgess and Prof. Paul Poisat.
For more information please contact:
Jonathan Deal
Chairman - Treasure Karoo Action Group
cell: 076  838 5150
e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
"NPC out of line" November 14, 2011

“The statements by the National Planning Commission in connection with shale gas mining are premature, unfortunate, and enter the completely unsettled debate from a weak position.” This is the view of Treasure Karoo Action Group, TKAG chairman Jonathan Deal, who added that it borders on irresponsibility by the NPC team to make sweeping pronouncements on a technology on which ‘the jury is still out’ around the world.

Hydraulic fracturing, (fracking) is presently under a full moratorium in South Africa, as well as in four other countries and at least 80 other locations around the world. The specialist task team convened by Minister Shabangu on the instructions of our full Cabinet, is yet to report back to the minister who only then may approach Cabinet for a decision on fracking. “In other words, this process is far from over, requiring in our view, an independent scientific investigation of at least the time frame involved in the US – which is four years,” said Deal.

For a presidentially sanctioned body of highly regarded thought leaders in our country to have released the statements that they have, at this time, creates the impression that our government has already made up its mind to issue licences to frack the country. “We are sure that this was not their intention. Of particular concern are the gas reserve figures on which these statements are based. We are receiving information, on a regular basis of the over estimation of gas reserves by the USGS and agencies in the UK. Estimated reserves in Pennsylvania have recently been reduced from 410tcf (trillion cubic feet) to 84tcf – an 80% reduction.”

In closing Deal referred to a few of the many unanswered questions surrounding ‘fracking’ – such as sourcing and pollution of fresh water, disposal of toxic wastewater, a dearth of mining law, lack of enforcement capability and the above-ground disruption to farming and tourism. “The NPC has failed to address any of these questions – which are absolutely fundamental to the issue at hand. We trust that this will not exacerbate an already delicate situation, in which TKAG has been forced to sue the Minister of Mineral Resources over her department’s refusal to share information on the activities of the task team).

[ABOUT TKAG: Treasure the Karoo Action Group represents a broad range of stakeholders who are concerned with the plans of Oil and Mining companies to extract shale gas from the Karoo basin. Popular support can be followed and joined on Facebook and at
"Shell’s credibility questioned again" September 28, 2011

“Shell’s credibility questioned again” A lobby group has accused Shell of having no credibility when making promises to South African communities about plans for hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”).

This follows reports this week about farmers in Pennsylvania (USA) blaming Shell for the contamination of their groundwater. (“Alarm bells sound for Karoo residents after US farmer’s water supply ruined,”

Treasure Karoo Action Group chairman Jonathan Deal says Shell spokespersons have been talking to local farmers and making promises about the safety of fracking while they were aware of the incident in Pennsylvania.

“Shell staff members have told us there was not even one incident of pollution from fracking, anywhere in the world, that can be attributed to them. They made no mention of this incident in the US, in April.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has formally placed Shell on notice that it (Shell) is in breach of provisions of the Oil & Gas Act in the US.

“Of particular interest to TKAG is the claim by two South African farmers that Shell attempted to purposefully divert them away from this incident site during a visit to the United States. In any event, the truth has emerged and we sincerely hope that our government is taking note of the conduct of Shell - the most visible of all applicants to frack this country,” said Deal. Meanwhile TKAG has welcomed the decision by Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu to cancel mining rights for the Central Rand Gold Mine on the basis of non-compliance with agreed conditions.

“It is heartening to see that Minister Shabangu is enforcing a no-nonsense approach in applying the law. This sends a very necessary message to big business that standards and values in South Africa are not for sale.”
“Fracking lobby group TKAG receives award for work done to conserve environment” August 18, 2011

Lobby group Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) will tonight (SUBS: Thursday) be honoured for its work in creating awareness about the potential dangers of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in the Karoo.

The award comes from the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA), and is awarded in the Group Category. The award will be presented to TKAG at WESSA’s 85th birthday celebration.

TKAG chairman Jonathan Deal welcomed the award. “It is a very welcome endorsement of the work we do every day, to create awareness about the potential dangers of fracking as a technology for South Africa,” he said. “We are deeply honoured to receive this award from a well respected organization such as WESSA.”

WESSA is a non-government organization, working to ensure environmental sustainability for current and future South African generations.

The award ceremony takes place at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town, at 6pm on Thursday August 18, 2011. For information on WESSA visit or call Catherine 082 321 2794.
“TKAG forced to launch ‘Access to Info’ request about fracking task team” August 15, 2011

The Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) has invoked the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to obtain information about government’s fracking task team and its report to Cabinet.  

Requests for access to information have been submitted to the Council for Geosciences, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Mineral Resources, the Department of Science and Technology, and the Petroleum Agency of South Africa.
“We have repeatedly asked Minister Shabangu to take the public into her confidence and share information about the fracking task team with TKAG and all other interested and affected South Africans, but our requests have fallen on deaf ears,” said Jonathan Deal, chairman of TKAG.

“Consequently, we have now been forced to formally request this information under the provisions of PAIA.”
The department of Mineral Resources announced earlier this year that a multi disciplinary task team would be investigating the merits of fracking, and report back to Cabinet. Since then, very little has been made public about the task team or its report.
In its requests, the TKAG asks for, amongst other things:
Terms of reference and/or instructions relating to the research to be conducted by the multi-disciplinary task team on hydraulic fracturing;
The identities and qualifications of the individual task team members;
Minutes of all task team meetings;
A copy of the most recent version of the task team’s report;
All research documents that relate to hydraulic fracturing and which have been, or may be, used by the task team.
“There are so many unanswered questions about this ‘mystery’ task team which has been conducting its affairs behind closed doors.  It is time the Minister told us what is going on,” said Deal.

Meanwhile, in a radio debate on SAFM today (Monday), Shell’s Bonang Mohale stated that Shell was in constant contact with government and kept them informed. “Who is Shell speaking to? Who do others not have the same access,” asked Deal.
Under PAIA, the recipients of TKAG's requests have 30 days within which to respond
“US task team finds gas fracking poses serious risks” August 11, 2011

An American task team found that gas companies run the risk of causing serious environmental damage from hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). This was welcomed by the Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG).
The team was appointed by US Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and found that the increased use of fracking, which forces water and chemicals into rock, raised the potential for a “serious problem”. (See Bloomberg report, copied below email signature.)
TKAG chairman Jonathan Deal said it was significant to note the task team consisted of predominantly oil and gas industry executives – no community representatives were included – yet the team’s report was critical of its own industry and their own technology.
“Another point to keep in mind is the matter of safety and environmental performance. The US report said this must be enhanced by means of better regulations.  We don’t have fracking-specific regulations in South Africa, a fact that has been confirmed by the very companies that are applying for shale gas exploration licenses in South Africa."  
“How can we possibly approve fracking in South Africa when the US panel, which apparently includes a representative from Shell, is calling for improved regulation of the industry and warning of serious environmental risks. Even if we had fracking-specific laws, the next important question is whether or not we would have an appropriate degree of governmental oversight and adequate enforcement capabilities,” said Deal.

He said, “South Africa still had a long way to go in terms of a thorough investigation, before we can even consider licensing shale gas mining.”
“Lastly, it is also worth noting that this panel of experts was not convinced that fracking is safe” said Deal.
“Fracking task team is a sham, says lobby group” July 27, 2011

Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) has described the task team investigating fracking as “a sham”, after the Minister of Mineral Resources revealed in parliament yesterday that the departments of Water Affairs and Agriculture were not represented on the team.

And from her reply it is clear that the task team would not be interviewing farmers or businesses or tourism bodies in the Karoo, before making their decision.

The Minister was replying to a written question from Democratic Alliance MP Gareth Morgan. (The reply to question number 1409 is available on request.)
“The constitution of the team and the exclusive nature of its mandate renders any report from it worthless in the debate on fracking,” said Jonathan Deal, chairman of TKAG.
Deal said that TKAG was specifically concerned about the fact that the department of Mineral Resources awarded complete autonomy to the task team in terms of the date on which the moratorium will be lifted, as well as the terms upon which applications and proposed operations shall be assessed.
“The fact that the task team excludes every other ministry and role player in this country with the exception of Departments of Trade & Industry, Science & Technology and Minerals is for TKAG, a clear indicator of the decision that can be expected from the team – fracking will be given the green light,” he said.
TKAG added that even the working group established by the team comprises only representatives from the Petroleum Association of South Africa, the Council for Geosciences and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
“This is not the way a democratic government should be behaving”, said Deal. “One would expect the task team, which is dealing with such an important issue, to represent all interested parties.  

"Fracking has damaged water supplies in a number of American States – and yet there is not a member of the Department of Water Affairs on the task team. Farmers’ land will be disturbed – yet there is no representative of any farmers.  There are no environmental NGO’s.”

Deal pointed out that according to the Minister herself, the moratorium was imposed as there were "very serious environmental implications (and) then "we as a cabinet took the decision to put in place a moratorium until we got the answers to that."  

"How can the Cabinet expect to find answers to their environmental concerns if the Department of the Environment and the Department of Water are not involved?

"Any answers that the Task Team puts forward will not be the product of taking Cabinet's primary concerns into account, and thus they will be worthless to Cabinet and the interested and affected parties (IAPs) who are relying on Cabinet to make an informed decision", said Deal.

"It was surely a material condition of Cabinet’s call for a moratorium, that the full implications of fracking must be researched - the Task Team will certainly have failed in that respect if they do not take in concerns about the environment and water.

"The manner in which the Task Team has seemingly exercised their powers is so unreasonable that no reasonable person in an administrative position would have conducted themselves in a similar fashion,” said Deal.
In her reply in Parliament, the Minister of Mineral Resources claimed that the public had already had their opportunity to comment on the applications of various companies who wish to mine shale gas, and that there would be no further opportunity for public involvement. No member of civil society will be involved in any way with the team.

"This is totally unacceptable," said Deal. "It is reasonable under the circumstances to be suspicious of bias."

According to Lewis Pugh, the internationally renowned cold water
swimmer, and a member of TKAG, no answers have been forthcoming to questions from the public for more than three months.

"Now we find out that all interested parties will not be consulted.  Nor do we know the qualifications of the members of the team.

"In a democracy one would expect  the process to be open and transparent.  Nothing should be done behind closed doors.

"The fact that this has not occurred leads one to conclude that the decision to frack has been given the go-ahead – and this “Task Team” is simply rubber stamping the decision,” said Pugh.
According to Deal, “this parliamentary reply explains the Minister’s baffling behaviour since April, where she refused to communicate with TKAG and other stakeholders.

"The actions of her department effectively marginalized all of the interest groups and affected parties in South Africa. We’re appalled that key ministries such as Water and Environment, Tourism, Transport, Agriculture and others are excluded from the team.
“Any report from this team which may give the go ahead to fracking will expose the Minister of Mineral Resources to international ridicule and pave the way for a legal opposition from concerned South Africans,” said Deal.
“There's no future in fracking” July 19, 2011

Oil companies were today (Tuesday) asked to drop their plans to use hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) to extract shale gas from the Karoo and other areas in South Africa.

Speaking at the Shale Gas Conference in Johannesburg, chairman of Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) Jonathan Deal said there was not enough evidence at hand that the potential benefits of fracturing could outweigh the attached risks.

"At this juncture of our history, with climate warming on the increase and increased threats to water supplies it would make corporate and social sense to invest research and development funds in seeking renewable energy alternatives, rather than pursuing finite fossil fuels," said Deal.

Deal was attending the 2011 Africa Gas and LNG Summit at the Hyatt Hotel in Rosebank, Johannesburg.

“TKAG respects due process and the current Cabinet moratorium on fracking. But this should not prevent oil and gas companies, such as Royal Dutch Shell, from changing their minds about fracking,” said Deal.

Deal also said there was not enough transparency about the departmental task team appointed to investigate the merits of fracking. “In the interest of playing open cards, we call on Energy Minister Dipuo Peters to disband this group. Repeated calls on her for clarity about the task team, and its terms of reference, have fallen on deaf ears.”

Deal said that fracking technology needs a rigorous evaluation that takes into account a number of technical, environmental, social, cultural and economic considerations.

He said that if Shell and other oil and gas companies were granted licences to explore or to produce without a comprehensive cost versus benefit evaluation of fracking's affect, the Karoo could face a social and environmental disaster that would devastate the area and its people.
“TKAG gets the hip hop on fracking” July 18, 2011

A hip hop music video about the dangers of fracking in the Karoo, was today launched in Cape Town.

Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) produced the animated video, along with the vocalist and writer Jitsvinger (a.k.a. Quintin Goliath) as part of their campaign to create awareness about why hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) should not be allowed in South Africa.

TKAG is opposed to the hasty introduction of this technology into South Africa, without due processes being followed and proper research being completed.

“Our drive against fracking has many elements – such as a legal challenge, a challenge to the regulating authority PASA, and community engagements. This music video will become part of our strategy, as we campaign against fracking in South Africa in general and the Karoo in particular,” said Jonathan Deal, chairman of TKAG.

The music video shows a male character walking across a vibrant Karoo landscape, which gradually changes into a barren landscape due to the effects of fracking activities. The Afrikaans lyrics explain the risks involved and supports the images on screen.

The images are accompanied by a hip hop music track, with vocals by Jitsvinger. The video can be viewed at The lyrics are printed below, followed by an English translation. Screen grabs of the music video are available upon request, from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

“We hope this video will help us spread the message about the potential risks involved with the use of fracking. If fracking is allowed to be implemented without careful research and planning, it is the entire country that will be directly or indirectly affected.

“We are talking to the youth because they are the ones who will be most affected by the potential social, economic and ecological damage caused through this mining technique,” said Deal.


[ABOUT TKAG – Treasure the Karoo Action group has emerged as the co-ordinating body, representative of a broad range of stakeholders who are concerned with the plans of oil and gas companies to extract shale gas from the Karoo basin. Popular support can be followed and joined on Facebook and at]

[ABOUT JITSVINGER - Jitsvinger (Quintin Goliath) is an Afrikaaps (Afrikaans with local Cape Town dialect) vernacular and Kyknet Fiestas award winning performer who combines poetry, self-composed music and theatre. He started his assent into the music arena in the mid-90s eventually releasing his self-written debut album Skeletsleutel in 2006. He is currently working on various theatre and music projects, and his follow-up album.]

Afrikaans lyrics











EK Se!


English translation


Have you heard of the new danger that supplies electricity but will destroy as soon as it connects with water, brother?  Oil companies plough a disaster known as fracking: hydraulic drilling fractures rocks 4 kilos underground in the Karoo the natural gas is plentiful, along with the sly tricks of the vultures. Watch out! Mother nature provided what was intended for man and earth together. How can you corrupt something so pure for money? Fracking takes this whole plan to hell Think about it Fracking! Apparently to create jobs Hectic! Take that failed technique and hit the road What about the people of our country? The habitat is already intact, check out the culture It makes the whole ecosystem toxic Multi-millions profited with scams of job creation Haibo! Fight the silence Haikona for that poison that spreads through the taps We better stand up and shake our heads before our children are sick at home from benzene, formaldehyde and more, hidden in the water supply by the pumps :
That method is stupid that's going to hit us. We must look for an alternative, organise tips, maximise and try that for survival, stand up and use you're right to fight!