South Africa might award its first licences for shale gas exploration by the end of September , a senior government official said yesterday.
The five licence applications under review are for exploration in the Karoo basin.
Environmentalists have criticised plans to work in the semi-arid region, which is home to rare species such as the mountain zebra and riverine rabbit.
Royal Dutch Shell, Falcon Oil and Gas and Bundu Gas & Oil are among five companies whose applications were being reviewed by the regulator, the acting CE of Petroleum Agency SA, Lindiwe Mekwe, said. The agency will recommend to Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane which applications should be accepted.
“We expect that the minister will be in a position to make a determination during the second or third quarter,” Mekwe said.
South Africa’s total recoverable gas reserves from onshore shale and offshore gas fields was estimated at about 19.5trillion cubic feet in 2015.