/ 16 October 2013

Government: Companies must disclose fracking fluids

South Africa imports 70% of its oil needs
South Africa imports 70% of its oil needs

South Africa proposed regulations for hydraulic fracturing that would require disclosure of chemicals used and meet standards set by the American Petroleum Institute (API), a year after lifting a moratorium on the technique.

"Equipment used in hydraulic fracturing operations must be fit for purpose and must meet relevant API standards," the government said on Wednesday on its national gazette website. "Fluids and their status as hazardous/non-hazardous substances" must be submitted as part of an impact assessment, it said.

Shell and other explorers have applied for permits to explore the semi-desert Karoo region. South Africa, which in 2012 ended a ban on the practice known as fracking, estimates shale gas may generate R1-trillion of sales in 30 years.

"The purpose of the draft regulations is to augment gaps identified in the current regulatory framework," particularly in relation to fracking, Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu said in the gazette. The draft rules are open for public comment for 30 days.

Farmers and other opponents of fracking, which injects pressurized water, chemicals and sand underground to shatter rock and release natural gas, say the drilling technique risks contaminating ground water. While shale extraction helped the US overtake Russia as the world’s biggest gas producer in 2009, countries including France have banned the practice.

"In order for fracking to go ahead it must be done in line with a proper charter with stringent control measures," James Lorimer, a spokesperson on mineral resources for opposition Democratic Alliance, said on October 10. – Bloomberg