Fracking or hydraulic fracturing is a method used to extract valuable gasses from rock formations in the earth. Some of these gasses include shale gas, tight gas and petroleum. In South Africa fracking is used to extract shale gas in the Karoo.
Shale gas is a natural gas that forms when air is captured in rock formations under the ground. It is one of the main reasons why hydraulic fracturing is used. Shale gas is used especially in America. In 2000 shale gas made out one percent of America’s energy producers but in 2010 it replaced over 20% of America’s natural gas resources. There was claimed by experts that South Africa has the fifth biggest shale gas resources in the world while China has the biggest.
There is hoped that this gas could be an alternative resource of energy for South Africa’s growing need. That is why the eighteen-month moratorium for the use of fracking, to extract shale gas, was lifted. Even though this could be a great opportunity for our country the damage caused to our environment would be far greater than the little energy it would produce.
When fracking is used to extract this gas, water, harmful chemicals and sand is pumped into the fractures of the rock formation. Manmade machines mostly make these fractures that drill holes into the rocks over three thousand meters deep. When this mixture of the water, sand and chemicals reach the shale rock formations hidroxide gasses are released inside the rock. These gases are than captured and used for the generation of electricity.
No one can say that fracking does not have a huge impact on the natural environment. Unluckily I am not too sure that it is a positive impact. The chemicals and toxins used in fracking are released into the scarce underground water of the Karoo, making the water polluted and unusable. Harmful emissions are also released into the air when extracted causing a greenhouse effect on the environment. A study shows that 3,6 to 7,9% methane is released into the atmosphere after fracking has taken place. Even the use of shale gas causes air pollution. The fact that fracking causes allot of pollution cannot be missed. It was even banned in France because of all the pollution it would have made.
Because of the negative effect of pollution on the environment, in this case air and water pollution, I can’t understand why such a thing was allowed. For me as part of a new generation it is more important to use clean alternative energy rather than to use short-term solutions with financial benefit just to cause the earth to decline faster.