South Africa has lifted a moratorium on shale gas exploration in the semi-arid Karoo region, where the extraction technique of “fracking” might be used to tap into some of the world’s largest stocks of the energy source
Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said on Friday the cabinet has decided to lift a moratorium imposed in April of last year.
“Cabinet endorsed a recommendation of the report on the lifting of the afore-stated moratorium,” Chabane told reporters.
According to an initial study commissioned by the US energy information administration, South Africa has 485 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable shale gas resources, most of which are located in the vast Karoo Basin.
The amount is the fifth largest of 32 countries included in the study and is pitched as a long-term solution for the energy problems of Africa’s largest economy.
The area is home to gas reserves now being investigated by energy company Royal Dutch Shell and petrochemical group Sasol [JSE:SOL].
South Africa last year imposed a fracking moratorium on oil and gas exploration licences in the semi-arid region to gain time to examine the concerns of environmentalists who say the process would ruin the area and to study the potential gains