South Africa to Back Shale Exploration
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government is breathing new light into the country’s shale gas exploration programme. Two key ministers this week voiced the importance of the gas economy, including shale gas, to the country’s future development.
Mining Minister Gwede Mantashe told MPs that “the southern Main Karoo Basin is considered the most prospective area for shale gas, with a possible estimation of 205 trillion ft3 of gas technically recoverable, as reported by the Petroleum Agency SA. The successful development of this resource has the potential to transform the national energy economy of South Africa. To that end, we intend to move with speed to fast-track the finalisation of Exploration Rights applications so that South Africa can maximise its chances of reaping the benefits from shale gas exploration and exploitation.”
“In due course” he will publish a notice inviting comments from persons who may be materially and adversely affected by the government's decision on three pending shale gas applications. Although he did not name the applicants, his department later said they are Shell, Falcon Oil and Gas, and Bundu Gas and Oil Exploration. The three had been expecting to receive licences already two years ago. However environmental groups have actively opposed any shale gas development in the Karoo.
Energy minister Jeff Radebe however has pledged that the government “will be proceeding” with shale. In a separate session, he told MPs in a wide-ranging statement on energy policy reported by NGW May 16 that shale gas discoveries in the Karoo will be "a game changer for the South African economy and energy mix." (The banner photo of the Karoo National Park is courtesy of Tjeerd Wiersma)