Johannesburg, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 17 January 2011 – Oil major Royal Dutch Shell has announced that it plans to explore for shale gas in South Africa’s Karoo Basin, according to an advertisement placed by the company in the Sunday Times newspaper.
Miningmx.com reports that, if successfully developed, shale gas could become a viable alternative for South African power generation, which now relies on coal for 95% of supply. It could also help reduce the country’s carbon footprint.
The Shell statement said the company had applied to Petroleum Agency South Africa for exploration rights in the South Western Karoo Basin to assess viable unconventional gas resources. Precise sites within the proposed 90 000 sq km exploration area had not yet been identified, the company added.
Shale gas is a natural gas produced from shale, a type of sedimentary rock consisting of clay and some organic matter.
Shell said that from next week it would start holding meetings to solicit views from the public and to compile an environmental assessment of the project. A number of local and foreign firms such as BHP Billiton and Sasol have shown interest in gas exploration in South Africa.
In the United States and some other countries, environmentalists have raised concern that the methods used to extract shale gas could lead to contamination of water supplies.