By Paul Vecchiatto
Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa is considering declaring hydraulic fracturing (fracking) a water-controlled activity‚ meaning that companies conducting shale gas exploration would have to apply a for a water use licence.
Delivering government’s draft water policy at a press briefing on Tuesday‚ Molewa said that guidelines were being developed to ensure that the effect of exploration and production of shale gas resources were managed and mitigated.
"It is expected that the scope of these considered regulatory measures must apply throughout the country‚ address hydraulic fracturing and be wide enough to encompass future technologies‚ provide mitigation of likely impacts on aquifers (groundwater resources) by exploration and production drilling‚ and allow for a well planned approach‚” she said.
Molewa said she had taken a decision to issue a notice of intention to declare fracking a controlled activity in terms of the National Water Act.
However‚ this notice would exclude exploration production of onshore "unconventional” oil or gas resources and any activities that she may have approved previously.
"In this regard only matters concerning water resource will be of consideration when licences are issued‚ including the possible impact of substances and chemicals on the ground water resource‚” she said.
Molewa said she wanted to make it clear that government’s key priority was protecting the environment and the country’s water resources.
"As such we will take every precaution to ensure that the possible effect of fracking on our water is carefully managed and minimised‚” she said. © BDlive 2013