Mailbox: Mr Light is right on Karoo fracking – it’s not so simple, Mr Hersov

BizNews community member Ralph Jones:

This email was written before your interview with Derek Light and held over pending a review before dispatch.

I refer to your interview with Rob Hersov and the Right of Reply from Michelle Kingwell.

I listened to the interview and could not believe that Rob Hersov could be so naïve and make such radical claims.

Firstly I believe Mr Hersov is ill informed about fracking and its potential demand for water, of which the Karoo resources are extremely limited.

Secondly the gas reserves have not been proven and the word “substantial” as used by Mr Hersov is meaningless.

Michelle Kingwell has summarised the fracking technology and its current status extremely well.

Where fracking is used internationally there is usually adequate water supplies. This is not true for South Africa.

I have followed the technology for many years and have been personally involved in pilot work associated with fracking for the recovery of Coal Bed Methane (CBM).

While I believe fracking has potential, Rob Hersov is shooting from the hip and should learn more before he makes overoptimistic statements and cuddling up to Gwede Mantashe.

In the USA there are many fracking sites that are an environmental mess. If strict guidelines were to be applied on closure, there are huge losses still to be incurred.

The time-line of 2 years is not possible. Exploiting an unknown reserve would be commercial suicide.

How would any process be selected and the plant sized for the recovery and utilisation of the gas?

Would it be gas turbines to electricity, fuel cells, LNG, ammonia or methanol, Fischer Tropps??

To link the shale gas with an aging PetroSA plant is a pipe dream. Another Eskom on the cards??? 

If seawater desalination is to be used, a plant of the size required plus the pipelines and pumping stations would take at least 36 months, from GO.

Road networks would probably be relegated to gravel or sand tracks which could initiate Karoo style sand storms and maybe even a dustbowl.

I am not aware of any mega project in SA that has been fast tracked in under 4-5 years, taking into account the essential pre-project lead time.

Rob Hersov also makes reference to Renergen as being a potential business supporter, among Shell and Total.

Renergen has been working for over a decade on developing their LNG and Helium project and are now only about to enter phase 1 production. I doubt they have the capacity to support a fast-track project.

Renergen has great potential, but their management will be the first to acknowledge the hurdles and unknowns in assessing the gas reserves.

No Mr Hersov, it is not as simple as you implied in the interview with Alec Hogg.

Please forward to Mr Hersov.

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