South Africa to Start Processing Shale Gas Exploration Applications
South Africa will process applications for shale gas exploration but hold off on controversial fracking drilling while new rules are drafted, the mines minister said Tuesday.
Last week, the country lifted moratorium on shale gas exploration in the Karoo basin.
"The drilling will happen because it will have to establish whether there is anything or not," Mining Minister Susan Shabangu told reporters, AFP said in a report. The minister added that hydraulic fracturing or fracking cannot happen now but drilling will happen so as to establish the potential, the report said.
The Karoo region has been tipped as potentially one of the world's largest untapped shale fields.
"It's only now I can say we'll start considering those applications," said Shabangu about the licence bids. The minister declined to say how much time will it take but pointed the it depended on the compliance of those applications given that new conditions are being put.
A cabinet report has recommended that fracking should be authorised "under strict supervision of the monitoring committee" and be halted if there were negative outcomes.
"We are a water scarce country. If the process is such that there is a threat to water in South Africa, we will have to stop the process," said Shabangu.