In solidarity with the heartland

In solidarity with the heartland by Geraldine Bennett, March 13, 2011, moneyweb
“It is a well-documented fact that companies do not disclose all the chemical constituents used in the fracking process and according to Andre Els, a Port Elizabeth drilling consultant who has worked in Iran, the North Sea and Germany, this information is withheld on intellectual property grounds. Els testifies to having worked in deep drilling (7km) on the farm Schietfontein in the Aberdeen district of the Karoo in 1967 where he was drilling for oil as an employee of the then Soekor. He recounts that at “12 000 feet” (3 658 metres/3.6 km) he started to experience “caving of the shales” as the layers began to collapse. The drilling fluid stopped circulating to keep the drill string mechanics cool, and unable to circulate, the fluid was lost into the formation through fissures. “A month later”, Els recalls, “I was sent by the Soekor legal department to investigate a report of discoloration in water emerging from a spring on a farm in the Klipplaat district.” Klipplaat is outside of Aberdeen and some 37km distant from the drill site. For Els there is no explanation of how this happened but he knows the two instances are directly related because he was able to recognise the chemical constituents of the drilling fluid…amongst others, tannin acids and caustic soda. Shell speaks of a depth of 5km but in Els’ case this rupturing and crumbling occurred at 3.7km. He is adamant that not enough is known about the underground aquifers on which the dry Karoo so depends, and to propose drilling and fracking over any part of that area without further investigation would be to be looking for a catastrophe. As to whether he believes much has changed since 1967…he says: “fracking is something you learn about in standard five, it doesn’t change. The chemicals may change and the machines may become more powerful, but fracking remains fracking”. … “Shell is going to induce via fracking. That fluid used for fracking will disappear in the cracks and no one knows where that will emerge…it could emerge in the Orange River.” This he says is a simple basic premise…“if you pump your tyre beyond its capacity it will burst into fragments and the only thing that you will know is that you don’t know where the pieces of rubber are in order to try and fix the problem.” As to seawater, which has been put forward as an option for the fracking mix, Els says it cannot even be considered. He likens this to the fact that one need only put seawater once into a fish tank and thereafter fill it up with drinking water and it will always remain saline. If this leaks into the aquifers, the Karoo will become a wasteland.

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