South Africa shale-gas permits unlikely in 2013


South Africa shale-gas permits unlikely in 2013


JOHANNESBURG -- Explorers including Shell are unlikely to get hold of shale gas permits in South Africa this year because of potential legal appeals, according to law firm Bowman Gilfillan.

“Certainly it’s unlikely to be before the end of the year,” Megan Adderley, an associate at the Johannesburg-based law firm, said in a phone interview. “Environmental groups will move to block this as soon as the government acts. The process of challenges could last for some time.”

South Africa in September lifted a moratorium on fracing, which uses a large volume of water pumped underground to help extract shale gas, to assess the area known as Karoo. Shell in 2011 applied to drill 24 exploratory wells in the arid area of western South Africa. The Karoo may hold 485 Tcf of shale resources, U.S. Energy Information Administration data show.

A taskforce of government agencies including the Department of Mineral Resources, or DMR, is studying best practice on fracing and plans to complete a draft by July, to be followed by public consultation, Adderley said. Landowners and other environmental groups will move to block the granting of exploration licenses, she said.

“The hydraulic fracturing monitoring committee which is an inter-departmental body has been established and is in the process of augmenting the regulations,” said Trevor Hattingh, a spokesman for the Department of Mineral Resources, in an e-mail response to questions


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