16 August, 2017
Fracking exploration company withdraws application in KZN
DURBAN - A company that was given the green light to explore for hydrocarbons in northern KwaZulu-Natal has announced that it withdrew its application.
KwaZulu-Natal is currently facing multiple applications by companies that want to explore the province for oil and gas.
Activists are concerned that this could lead to hydraulic-fracturing, otherwise known as fracking - in an area that is water scarce, it has seen opposition from farmers and environmental activists.
In a letter addressed to the Petroleum Agency of South Africa on July 21, but only made public on Friday, once released to Frack Free SA, Sungu Sungu Gas (Pty) Ltd director Thabang Khomo said: "We, Sungu Sungu Gas (Pty) Ltd, hereby notify the Petroleum Agency of South Africa that we would like to withdraw our Exploration Right Application with immediate effect. We would like to thank you for assisting us during the application process and for your valuable input."
Johannesburg-based Sungu Sungu through its environmental consultants, Environmental Impact Management Services (EIMS), informed activists and residents on July 20 that they had been given environmental authorisation to conductexploration over a 7,763-hectare area in the Dannhauser magisterial district.
The authorization was given by the Department of Minerals and the Petroleum Agency of South Africa. Sungu Sungu was informed of the authorization on June 30 but was only required to inform the public by latest last week.
Last year, Sungu Sungu had its bid to explore areas in both KZN and the Free State - covering 565,000 ha - stopped in the Pietermaritzburg High Court by local farmers on the grounds that the company did not adequately inform the landowners who would be affected by the exploration about their application.
Earlier this year, the Pietermaritzburg High Court ordered Rhino Oil and Gas Exploration South Africa (Pty) Ltd to stop all exploration in an 800,000 ha area after it was found the PASA had ignored key components of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act. The application was brought by Normandien Farms, which runs a timber and R40-million water-bottling plant on its farm near Newcastle.
In a short statement by Frack Free SA, they thanked "all who overwhelmed the Department of Environmental Affairs and PASA with letters and phone calls" and said the withdrawal was another victory for the anti-fracking movement.