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Mr Julius Irene

Research project: The Environmental Implications of Shale Gas Development in the Karoo, South Africa

Abstract

The increased interest in hydraulic fracturing for shale gas development in the last decade has led to a sharp increase in research activity focussing on the environmental impact of Shale gas, with US research groups leading the work in this field. Exploration by SOEKOR in the 1960s and 1970s followed up on leads that the southern Karoo might be hydrocarbon-rich for Shale Gas resource.

Contrary to the environmentalist perspective of shale gas as dangerous with potential harmful effects to human health and the environment, proponents of this technology propose that shale gas being considered as a cleaner form of energy aiding the transition energy process to low carbon emission energy consequently reducing global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The government of South Africa has set an ambitious agenda for shale gas development to reduce its dependence on coal and reduce its greenhouse emission. South Africa is the 8th largest emitter of GHG in the world. With increasing overall energy consumption and bourgeoning national economy, shale gas development provides the logical pathway for the nation's economic growth and enhance its domestic energy demand.

This research utilizes a mixed methods approach for data collection and analysis.  The data from the qualitative study will be contributory in the development of the instrument for the quantitative aspect of the study. The sample will be drawn from a pool of what is generally referred to as "Interested and Affected Parties" in the Karoo.

This research is focused on investigating the possible environmental implications of shale gas development in South Africa, as well as the social and economic impact in the Karoo community. The research draws on the ongoing experiences of shale gas development in North America. This research also examines public perceptions of shale gas exploration in the Karoo and best practices for managing the industry.  Finally, this research will provide a roadmap for policymakers, the oil and gas industry, environmentalist and the research community for the development of shale gas in South Africa, first of its kind in Africa. 

Biography

I received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geology from the University of Calabar and an MBA Degree in Oil and Gas from Middlesex University, London. I have over 20 years experience in a wide range of oil and gas exploration, appraisal and development projects across Africa, Middle East and the North Sea. My experiences include areas of drilling and operations/subsurface geology gained in a variety of roles with Baker Hughes INTEQ and Tullow Oil.

I have remarkable experience and exposure to world-class geology plays in highly underexplored areas, big new discoveries in East Africa Rifts - Uganda (Albertan Graben) and Kenya (Lokichar Basin).

I am a member of the Petroleum Society of Great Britain, London Petrophysical Society, Society of Petrophysicists and Well Log Analysts, Geological Society of London and South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions.

Areas of research interest

  • Operations geology
  • Environmental governance
  • Shale gas development

Qualifications

  • BSc(Hons) Geology
  • MBA Oil and Gas

Funding or awards received

  • Self
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