Development of commercially viable shale gas in the Karoo would generate far fewer new energy jobs than the 100,000 people currently engaged in farming, or the 5,000-10,000 in tourism in the region, Wits University professor Bob Scholes said on Friday. Scholes was addressing a breakfast hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry and the South African Oil and Gas Alliance on the strategic environmental assessment (SEA) for shale gas development in SA, which was completed a week ago. The report was commissioned by Parliament to respond to all 18 major areas of concern raised by stakeholders, from water scarcity in the area to economic spin-offs. Scholes said this type of full assessment was not always appropriate but it was worth spending R10m-12m on it because of the broad effects of shale gas development in the Karoo. Shale gas, and its extraction method called fracking, has generated a highly emotional and polarised debate and the purpose of the SEA was to present the various o...

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