An analysis of South Africa's statutory regime pertinent to the risks of hydraulic fracturing.
The production of energy is vital for the survival of mankind –we rely on the supply of energy in all sectors of the economy, ranging from the generation of electricity which ensures the functioning of households and industries, to the manufacturing of petroleum and diesel from fossil fuels. Energy production largely depends on the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, which contributes significantly to levels of pollution as well as environmental degradation. The supplementation of coal with the usage of natural gas that is located underground is viewed as being a more environmentally sound method of power generation. Hydraulic fracturing (or ‘fracking’) is the process applied in order to extract natural gas from deep below the earth’s surface. However, speculation has arisen regarding the environmental risks and consequences of the fracking procedure which has caused debate about how environmentally safe this method actually is. Subsequently, the need for legislative and regulatory mechanisms is essential in order to establish applicable procedures that govern hydraulic fracturing and to guarantee that fracking occurs in a manner that is not harmful to the environment, with remedies being available if such harm does transpire. The Karoo Basin in South Africa is an area facing the implementation of hydraulic fracturing.Currently, various national legislation exists that may govern fracking and its effects, however no distinct statute is available which specifically applies to hydraulic fracturing in its entirety. This research study will assess the adequacy of South Africa’s current legislative scheme in relation to hydraulic fracturing and its potential polluting effects, while discussing whether the legislative system is suitable in its application or whether it lacks relevance to those ecological ramifications.