South Africa will move ahead "decisively" with the exploration of
shale gas, the country's minerals minister said in Cape Town.
Minerals Minister Susan Shabangu said that "geology indicates" a
potential for 485 trillion cubic feet of shale gas trapped in the formations of
South Africa's arid Karoo region.
"We will move ahead decisively, yet responsibly with the exploration of
shale gas," Shabangu said, adding that the government would
"unleash" the potential of shale gas to provide
"cost-competitive energy security" and create jobs.
Shabangu, speaking at the opening of a major mining conference in the city,
said legislation governing the exploration would come soon.
Opposition to 'fracking'
"We have published the technical regulations for the development of
shale gas for public comments and the final regulations will be released
Environmentalists have vociferously opposed the drilling for shale gas,
known as fracking, in the Karoo region, saying it has the potential to poison
the area's underground water supply.
The process involves digging wells up to four kilometres (2.5 miles) deep,
before pumping in a cocktail of water and chemicals to crack the shale rock and
release the gas.
President Jacob Zuma said last year that shale gas has the potential to
transform South Africa's economy by, among others, reducing the price of its
Shabangu said South Africa was also nurturing the development of its
offshore oil and gas prospects and the country "welcomed" a number of
multinationals that had expressed interest in the development of "this
(Picture: Oil and gas operator from Shutterstock)