Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA)’s shale gas drilling plans for South Africa’s Karoo semi-desert are pitting the government and its energy goals against farmers and conservationists like billionaire Johann Rupert who say the land will be spoiled.
The government estimates enough gas can be discovered to generate 1 trillion rand ($100 billion) of sales within three decades and help bring a country that imports 70 percent of its crude oil needs closer to supplying its own energy demand. Landowners are lining up against the water-intensive drilling techniques that Europe’s biggest oil company intends to use.
“People don’t see what will happen,” Izak van der Merwe, a 59-year old sheep farmer, said as he sipped a beer while walking down a line of freshly slain antelope at the Murraysburg Hunting Competition, 620 kilometers (385 miles) northeast of Cape Town. “The people at Shell don’t realize the kind of ecosystem we have.”
At stake is a government ...