Shale gas development in the Great Karoo : the potential socio-economic impacts on the town of Beaufort-West

Mentor, Daphne June (2012-12)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.


With the advent of shale gas exploration in the Karoo region, the purpose of this study was to investigate the possible socio-economic impacts of shale gas development on the town of Beaufort West in the Karoo. A qualitative study method was used to establish possible socio economic impacts by reviewing literature with regard to existing shale gas development as well as a case study from the United States of America (USA). A desktop study of Beaufort West was carried out to establish current socio economic trends in the town. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with key stakeholders to establish their concerns and opinion regarding the possibility of shale gas exploration and production in the area of Beaufort West in the Karoo. The results of the study concluded that the concerns of the key stakeholders were definitely relevant as their livelihood would be threatened if there was any possibility of contamination of their water sources. Other possible socio economic impacts included infrastructure concerns with regard to road maintenance, tourism declining and the threat of noise and air pollution. The study recommends that if the shale gas development process were to go ahead, the South African government would need to ensure that best practices are incorporated by all gas drilling companies. A team of qualified and trained regulators should monitor well pads and hydraulic fracturing methods as well as volumes of water used and the disposal of waste water. The regulations existing in the country should be revised to incorporate the stringent standards of other countries that have strict monitoring policies in place. In order to protect the people of the Karoo and the heritage of South Africa, the government must ensure that gas companies are held liable for any kind of environmental or socio economic impact.

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