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Shell denies greasing ANC palms

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Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 19.22.09By Tony Carnie: 20 August 2015

Durban – Oil giant Shell has denied suggestions that it exercises “improper influence” over government officials or makes financial payments to the ANC to pave the way for shale gas fracking.

The company’s local subsidiary, Shell South Africa, was responding on Wednesday to fears raised by local anti-fracking groups in a letter to the Minister of Mineral Resources, Ngoako Ramatlhodi.

The Treasure of the Karoo Action group and AfriForum wrote to Ramatlhodi this week voicing concern that he would be caught in a conflict of interest by adjudicating any application from Shell for a petroleum exploration licence or right.

This was because the Batho Batho Trust, a community trust set up in 1992 by Nelson Mandela, held a 47% equity interest in the Thebe Investment Corporation, which in turn was the local empowerment partner of Shell South Africa.

“Shell’s local empowerment partner is part-owned by the trust – a self-admitted donor to the ANC and the South African government simultaneously,” the two groups claimed, adding that Ramatlhodi was also a member of the party’s national executive committee.

In these circumstances, it was undesirable and possibly unlawful for a company closely associated with a political party, directly or indirectly, to be awarded petroleum exploration or production rights.

But Shell denied this was the case.

Responding to queries from The Mercury, Shell SA spokeswoman Dineo Pooe said: “We reject any claim that we have exercised improper influence over government officials in relation to our business.

“In accordance with Shell’s business principles we do not provide or make any financial payments to political parties or their representatives.”

The company said any shale gas exploration would be conducted in a responsible manner and it would be required to conduct an environmental, social and health impact assessment to mitigate or manage any negative impacts.

“We have made several commitments to the people living in the Karoo about our activities…

“We will continue with ongoing discussions with government, industry and the people of South Africa about the long- term opportunities of shale gas exploration and the regulations that will govern this industry.”

Nevertheless, the two anti-fracking groups have requested several written assurances from Ramatlhodi on fracking within 15 days – and also demanded that the moratorium on fracking be reinstated until the CSIR and the Academy of Science of South Africa complete separate reports on fracking issues.

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