Karoo fracking to begin in 12 months - govt

Johannesburg - The government said on Tuesday that exploration for shale gas will begin in the next 12 months, ending years of speculation over the project.

South Africa's semi-desert Karoo region is believed to hold at least 485 trillion cubic feet of shale gas, but drilling has been delayed by environmental and economic concerns.

"One area of real opportunity for South Africa is the exploitation of shale gas," the government said in a statement.

"Exploration activities are scheduled to commence in the next financial year."

The government has said that shale gas could be the answer to the country's energy challenges, as coal-fired power stations battle to meet the rising demand for electricity.

But the process of fracking used to capture the gas has been opposed by environmentalist who argue that it has the potential to poison the Karoo's underground water supply.

Fracking 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.

In 2012, the government lifted an 18-month moratorium on hydraulic fracturing to weigh the environmental and economic implications of the process.

Anglo-Dutch energy firm Shell is one of the companies that have shown interest in the gas exploration, and have expressed concern at the lack of progress in the project.

The company had said it planned to spend $200m for the first exploration phase of six wells if granted a licence to drill.

ZAR/USD
17.20
(-0.08)
ZAR/GBP
22.49
(-0.04)
ZAR/EUR
20.24
(-0.11)
ZAR/AUD
12.26
(-0.24)
ZAR/JPY
0.16
(+0.03)
Gold
1996.41
(+1.13)
Silver
25.49
(+5.29)
Platinum
930.02
(+1.25)
Brent Crude
43.86
(+1.45)
Palladium
2108.00
(+1.11)
All Share
56248.93
(+0.75)
Top 40
51951.34
(+0.74)
Financial 15
9878.55
(+0.75)
Industrial 25
74943.49
(+0.27)
Resource 10
57327.85
(+1.31)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
Do you think it was a good idea for the government to approach the IMF for a $4.3 billion loan to fight Covid-19?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes. We need the money.
11% - 835 votes
It depends on how the funds are used.
74% - 5549 votes
No. We should have gotten the loan elsewhere.
15% - 1108 votes
Vote