Gas will bring wealth - Shabangu

2013-10-10 22:27
The attack on the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is an attack on the entire congress movement, including the ANC, said Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu. (Beeld)

The attack on the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is an attack on the entire congress movement, including the ANC, said Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu. (Beeld)

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Pretoria - Petroleum exploration and exploitation, including shale gas, will contribute to the economy, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said on Thursday.

"This is a complete new area, and are we going to move in the space the same way as we did with the mining industry, which operated without any obligation to... economic well-being?" she asked.

Shabangu was speaking on the outcomes of Cabinet's regular fortnightly Wednesday meeting, where the executive approved the gazetting of the technical regulations on petroleum exploration and exploitation.

"If you look at that, that's what we've incorporated... where we deal with the issue of minerals being a strategic commodity but also which contributes to the economy of the country in a way to take us forward," she said.

The proposed regulations prescribed good international petroleum industry practices and standards, which enhanced safe exploration and production of all petroleum, including but not limited to shale gas. It would further ensure that petroleum exploration was conducted in a socially and environmentally balanced manner.

The regulations would be gazetted for 30 days for public comment, Shabangu said.

A moratorium on processing applications for shale gas exploration in the Karoo was imposed by the mineral resources department in 2011 and a technical task team was established to investigate socio-economic and environmental impact and any associated risks of shale gas exploration and exploitation.

The investigation report was concluded and published last year and made specific recommendations, Shabangu said.

The primary recommendation was a need to ensure that the country's regulatory framework was robust enough to ensure that if hydraulic fracturing associated with shale gas exploration and exploitation was approved, any negative impact would be mitigated.

An interdepartmental committee had been established to look at strengthening regulations. Those included were mineral resources, water and environmental affairs, science and technology, energy, the council for geoscience, and the Petroleum Agency of SA.

Shale gas exploitation

An international benchmarking exercise of well-developed jurisdictions that had begun shale gas exploitation was also done, said Shabangu.

The technical regulations provided for included the assessment of the potential impact of the proposed activities on the environment, the protection of fresh water resources and mechanisms for site-specific buffer zone determination for the coexistence of shale gas exploitation and the Square Kilometre Array astronomy project.

She said the technical regulations were applicable to onshore and offshore exploration and production operations. They also addressed crucial elements of the hydraulic fracturing process.

Shabangu said government was satisfied that the technical regulations had addressed the recommendations in the investigation report.

"We have a responsibility as government to ensure security of energy supply for the country, and to explore energy sources that will improve the country's energy mix, grow the economy, and contribute to job creation.

"This will also enable us to contribute to the developmental objectives and targets set out in the National Development Plan," she said.

Read more on:    susan shabangu  |  fracking

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