Texas oil and gas firm backs down from explorations in South Africa

Pushing away the threat

Durban – The Texas-based oil exploration company Rhino Resources has cut back on the scale of its proposed oil and gas exploration bid in KwaZulu-Natal after a major public backlash.

The company’s local subsidiary company, Rhino Oil and Gas Exploration, lodged an exploration application early last year covering a massive 1 500 000 ha chunk of the province and nearly 10 000 farms.

Now the scale of its exploration bid has been reduced to 850000 ha and about 6 700 properties in central KZN.

Environmental consultants acting for the company acknowledged that there had been “extremely strong” and almost unanimous public opposition to the exploration plan, which could ultimately involve hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”).

 The consultants said it was evident that the majority of opposition was against the environmental and social risks of fracking if viable oil and gas reserves were to be found.

“It is further perceived that this (fracking) could lead to widespread impacts on water and land, causing devastation to livelihoods. The perception is informed by the widely publicised negative impacts of hydraulic fracturing and the decisions taken by many governing bodies around the world to suspend such activities,” the consultants said in a notice published at the weekend.

“The related concern is that once an exploration right is granted, it will be nearly impossible to stop the process later.

“For these reasons the public approach is to close the door on exploration before it opens… thereby preventing any future risk, or potential benefit, from resulting.”

The company would focus only on an aerial survey method known as “full tensor gradiometry” (FTG).

This method used multiple pairs of accelerometers to measure the rate of change of the gravity field to build up a picture of underground geology.

“FTG surveys involved grid-based flights using a light fixed-wing aircraft at an altitude of between 80m and 300m above the ground.”

In good weather, such a survey would take less than seven days to complete.

If the aerial surveys suggested commercially viable reserves of oil and gas in the exploration area, further environmental impact studies would have to be done before any ground-based drilling or exploration activities.


Source: http://www.iol.co.za/business/news/kzn-exploration-bid-texas-firm-backs-down-2067475



Anti-fracking campaigners are celebrating this weekend! The news broke on Thursday that Infrastrata had drilled 2,000 metres underground at Woodburn Forest, Carrickfergus but found water instead of oil in their two target rock formations.  The drill had been the subject of much concern among the anti-fracking campaigners throughout Ireland who were extremely worried that this would be the start of a fracking operation that would cover 200 square miles of the Larne Basin (the licencing area) and also would spark off fracking operations in the Leitrim-Fermanagh area again.


“We are so delighted that the drill failed to find oil. What was so frightening about this drilling was the evident collusion between politicians, civil servants, local authorities and PSNI, who worked together to facilitate this dirty industry drilling without full planning process, environmental impact assessment or public consultation.  Coupled with this was the inability of the local campaigners to stop, or even delay, the drilling, despite heroic efforts by campaigners and complete dedication to the Stop the Drill campaign.

All we could do at the end of the day was to pray for a dry well, we got one and thank God for that.  But what a close call!  We can and are celebrating this weekend, but at the back of everyone’s mind is the Infrastrata declaration in their Press Release: ‘the joint venture will now fully evaluate the data collected in the well and decide where to focus its future exploration activity in the basin’.  The war is not over!”


Meg Rybicki from Northwest Network against Fracking warned that this success is not the end of the campaign.

“The scale of the struggle we are facing is now clear.  To stop fracking in Ireland will require a united all-island effort that will engage all sectors – communities, activists, political parties and representatives, and lean on the massive international support that is available to us.  This is what the campaign against fracking will now focus on.  A ban against fracking North and South must be implemented.  Valuable lessons have been learned and using these, we will succeed in keeping fracking out of Ireland!”



A new phase in our campaign

Following our successful Stop the Study campaign, the campaign against fracking in Ireland is now entering a new phase. All candidates throughout Ireland, in every constituency, are being asked to sign a pledge that they will support legislation “to ban unconventional exploration or extraction of shale oil or gas using high volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking)”.

To sign the pledge is made simple through the campaign website votefrackfree.org. The website includes a “name and shame” section that names those who have not signed. A publicity event on 19th February will highlight the support given to the campaign.

“The threat of fracking has still not gone away” said Aedín. “Applications for exploration licences are still on the Minister’s desk! We want all candidates of every party and none, to sign this pledge to express their opposition to this industry. Then we want the new government to pass new legislation that will ban fracking in Ireland forever.

We will continue to campaign until that legislation is passed. New studies of the environment and public health impacts of fracking in US are confirming that this is a high risk industry; the litany of harms in areas being fracked increases day by day – water contamination, earthquakes, air pollution and a range of public health impacts that include skin and respiratory illnesses, allergies and cancer.

We don’t want or need fracking in Ireland!”

The Sign the Pledge campaign is organised by Fracking Free Network, Friends of the Earth and GEAI. It is operating through the campaign website www.votefrackfree.org.

EPA and JOC video and transcript

After 3 hours, no satisfaction from EPA

On 2nd December, the Joint Oireacthas Committee on Energy met with a delegation from EPA to discuss the research study on fracking. TDs questioned EPA following reports that the EPA-led study is being carried out by the oil and gas industry providers CDM Smith and AMEC. There was also concern that the committee has been misled about the role of Queen’s University Belfast. TDs rigorously questioned EPA Assistant Director General Dara Lynott and Research Manager Dr Brian Donlon for 3 hours.

Here is the transcript.

The full video: http://www.oireachtas.ie/viewdoc.asp?DocID=30497&&CatID=127

Here you can see 3 of the most important moments:

TD Richard Boyd Barrett raised many really important matters. In particular, he asked why the Study on fracking does not include a health impact study. Simple question? Not for EPA. By the end of the discussion it was impossible to know if fracking is dangerous for human health.

This time, TD Richard Boyd Barrett compared the Irish Study in progress with the conclusion of the Department of Environment in New York State where impacts for human health had been proved by an official study. Logically, if there is a risk for a New Yorker it is the same for an Irish. But, again, EPA answered that they do not know.

In this excerpt, the EPA speaker answers: “There will be no recommendation in this report as whether to proceed with fracking or not to proceed with fracking” to a question from Senator Michael Colreavy. This begs the question: What will be the utility and the exact goal of the study?


Anti Fracking events in November

Anti-fracking discussion with English and Spanish activists
Thursday November 26th, 8pm

10 Belvedere Court, Dublin 1

There will be an informal discussion, joined by four experienced anti-fracking activists from England and Northern Spain. They have recently attended the Frackanpada 2015 which took place in the Basque Country in July – an international gathering of anti-fracking activists. For more information see here.

Making the Connection: Fracking No! 
An International Gathering of Anti-fracking Activists in the Glens Centre, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim

Saturday November 28th, 7-11.30pm

International activists resisting fracking in England and in the northern regions of Spain will share and swap information, stories and experiences as part of Making the Connection, Fracking No! to take place on Saturday November 28th starting at 7pm sharp in The Glens Centre, Manorhamilton.

Donal O’Kelly will perform Fionnuala, his Edinburgh Fringe First award-winning show about human rights abuses connected with the Shell Corrib gas project, with live music by Dee Armstrong of Kila and Diarmuid and Lughaidh Armstrong.

A panel discussion comprised of speakers from Burgos, Cantabria, England and Ireland will follow with DJ Enda of Firehouse Skank finishing off the evening with reggae beats.

Poster no fracking web


® All rights reserved to GEAI 2018