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Pearston hall





Bundu Oil and Gas (PTY) Ltd held their Public Participation Meeting in Pearston at the Town Hall on Friday 13 February 2015. The meeting formed part of their revision of the Environmental Manage-ment Programme previously submitted by them in support of its application for an exploration right for petroleum (shale gas) in the magisterial district of Pearston, Jansenville, Graaff-Reinet, Cradock and Somerset East.

The meeting was reasonably well attended, roughly estimated at 120, by mostly local residents of the black and coloured community, farmers, local government officials, media, Agri Eastern Cape leadership and the anti Shale Gas groups consisting of TKAG (Jeanie le Roux), Derek Light (attorney) Dougie Stern (farmer) and Daantjie Japhta (Khoi and San indigenous people group).

The meeting started at 10h30 and finished at 14h30 (scheduled finish time was 12h30). Bundu was represented by their top leadership consisting of Robert Willes, Director, Peter Price and others. Golder and Associates, their consultants, were represented by Toni Pietersen and Dr. Brent Baxter, who is also the Project Director for Golder. Dr David de Waal, Aecom, chaired the meeting.

Special mention must be made of Dr. Baxter who gave the overview of the Environmental Manage-ment Programme and also handling and answering most of the questions raised from the floor, he was very knowled-geable and answered all the questions raised.

Robert Willes, did a presentation as intro-duction to Bundu Gas and Oil (Pty) Ltd and gave an overview of their proposed work pro-gramme to the meeting, after which Dr Baxter did the overview of the Environmental Management Programme.

The Question and Answer session followed after that:

Present was quite a mixed bag of positive and negative people. The local coloured and black community was voci-ferous in their support. Jessey Charlie, a local resident and community leader, stood up and said that they want the project for their town and that people from other towns, outsiders, should rather keep their mouths shut as this is not their town.

Daantjie Japhta, representative of the Khoi and San said that they were the first people here in SA and that they have not been consulted by Bundu and they feel insulted by that and that Bundu and all the other companies that want to Frack their mother earth should leave.

Ernest Pringle, President of Agri Eastern Cape, raised the request of money to be paid up front as a deposit for means of compensation should the Karoo’s water be contaminated. He also mentioned that they, as Agri EC, do not have a closed viewpoint and are open for proper consultation. He also wanted to have clarity of where Bundu will source their water from as the Karoo doesn’t have enough water for the project. A councillor of BCRM in Pearston stood up and said that he is supporting the project and that it should not be shot down. Bundu, Shell and Falcon should be given a fair chance to explore to see if there is adequate gas.

These companies have experience in what they are doing and with the technology advancing as it is, it would most probably be a very safe operation comes fracking time, after which he got applause from the locals.
Jeanie le Roux of TKAG, questioned the Econometrix study done by Shell and as the local residents think they will get a lot of jobs, asked Robert Willes if he agrees with the outcome of the study. He gave a long explanation about them not being involved and Econometrix which is a reputable company and stated that according to him it is quite a reasonable study that has been put together. She also asked about a company which had a drill bit stuck in a well in America as well as Soekor who lost drill mud during the 1960’s near Aberdeen and traces of it  were found in water samples some 30km away.

Wayman Kritzinger, Vice President Agri Eastern Cape, asked about long term financial sus-tainability of Food Security and Agricultural existence vs Shale Gas Production and the co-existence of all farming practices with Shale Gas Production.

Another local lady stood up and said that there are risks involved in every business and the farmers and local people should give the project a chance.

Margaret Hobson, questioned the integrity of all the license applicants.

Derek Light had the last word, but by then a lot of folk have left as the meeting has been commencing for 3hrs already. He asked Bundu to withdraw their application as it was deemed insufficient by law. If Bundu is going to go ahead to submit the EMP he will be forced to request the Minister to reject the application and he gave quite a long explanation about the legality of the process and that they will keep fighting this to the highest court.

Interesting times ahead, as there is a definite move towards support of this very controversial issue on the one hand and the fight to oppose the project on the other. We will keep an eye on how this unfolds in the months and years to come.

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