South Africa Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu wants two-year delay on fracking by Sue Blaine, February 13, 2014, Business Day Live
Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu has asked the oil and gas industry for comment on a proposed two-year extension of the moratorium on new applications for onshore and offshore exploration rights, and on the controversial hydraulic fracturing (fracking) gas-extraction technique. It is unclear why Ms Shabangu has made this move, and her department refused to explain why the extension was needed.
Ms Shabangu said at this month’s Mining Indaba in Cape Town that the government would be moving ahead “decisively” on shale gas exploration in the Karoo. This statement and the proposed extension have lawyers scratching their heads, as they contradict each other. The department, however, said on Tuesday that oil and gas exploration and production in South Africa was in its infancy, and there was an “urgent need” to let those granted exploration licences before the moratorium was declared in February 2011 continue their exploration work. This is limited to desk-top studies and reconnaissance, while industry players have said the viability of the Karoo resource would be known only after test drills, employing the fracking technique, were executed.
Shell SA and Bundu Gas and Oil, which gained exploration rights before the moratorium, were waiting for Ms Shabangu to publish final regulations for fracking, an activity banned in France, the New York state in the US, and Tunisia. Ms Shabangu has banned fracking until regulations are published. She had promised to release them before the election, set for May 7. She published draft regulations in October last year. ENSAfrica oil and gas expert Luke Havemann said if the extension would give Ms Shabangu time to finalise the fracking regulations and align legislation, it was welcomed. [Emphasis added]