14 May 2012 – South African minister of minerals Susan Shabangu says that a technical report on shale gas will be submitted to the Cabinet in July at the latest after exploration for this resource in the country’s Karoo region was suspended in 2011 to enable further study on the matter. That followed protests regarding the environmental effects of hydraulic fracking.
Bloomberg reports that the government halted plans for hydraulic fracturing as it studied the environmental repercussions of allowing companies including Royal Dutch Shell, Falcon Oil & Gas and Bundu Oil & Gas to employ the practice. Fracking, which involves blasting water mixed with sand and chemicals underground to free trapped hydrocarbons from shale formations, has already been banned in France.
South Africa, a net oil importer that’s threatened by power shortages, has the fifth-largest technically recoverable gas resources of 32 countries, an initial assessment commissioned by the US Energy Information Administration shows. The country has about 485 trillion cubic feet of shale, according to the study that was published last year.
Developing one-tenth of that may boost the economy by about R200 billion a year, a study by Johannesburg- based research company Econometrix and commissioned by Shell showed earlier this year.
Shale gas can play an important role in energy production, energy minister Dipuo Peters said in March this year. The government is “cognisant of the controversies associated with shale-gas extraction processes such as ground water and soil contamination, however with ongoing developments I am confident that these challenges will in the not-so-far future come to pass,” she said.