The government needs to involve all parties affected by fracking in a comprehensive and far-reaching study, the Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG) said on Thursday (10/10/2013).
"It is beyond embarrassing that the government of the economic powerhouse of Africa can be so gullible," TKAG CEO Jonathan Deal said in reference to an Econometrix fracking study by Shell in 2012.
"It is not enough to swallow the promises of companies who gamble with the future of this country while promoting their own profit objectives."
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of fracturing rock by pumping pressurised liquid deep into the ground to extract natural gas trapped in shale layers.
The Econometrix study constructed a macro-economic model to analyse the economic opportunities should a large amount of gas be found in the Karoo.
The TKAG and AfriForum released a peer-reviewed critique of the study on Thursday, which questioned the efficacy of the economic model used.
"No one macro-economic model, and certainly not simple theoretical models, can be used to base policy decisions on," they said.
"Intellectual monopolies in the modelling domain do not lead to better decisions, especially when potentially game-changing shocks to broader socio-economic and ecological systems are anticipated."
Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu on Thursday announced the gazetting of technical regulations on shale gas exploration and exploitation, which would allow 30 days for public comment.
She said the proposed regulations prescribed international industry practices and standards, which would ensure exploration was conducted in a "socially and environmentally balanced manner".
A year ago, Cabinet agreed to lift a moratorium on applications to explore for shale gas in the Karoo using fracking.
The decision was based on recommendations contained in a report on shale gas exploration prepared by a technical task team, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said last September.
Shabangu said one of the report's main recommendations was to ensure that the regulatory framework was robust enough to mitigate any negative impact should fracking be approved.
"We have a responsibility as government to ensure security of energy supply for the country, and to explore energy sources that will improve the country's energy mix, grow the economy and contribute to job creation." - Sapa