Gov­ern­ment fi­nally gazettes frack­ing rules

CityPress - - Business - DE­WALD VAN RENS­BURG de­wald.vrens­burg@city­press.co.za

The long-awaited tech­ni­cal reg­u­la­tions for hy­draulic frac­tur­ing (frack­ing) were gazetted this week af­ter more than a year’s wait.

The reg­u­la­tions ap­peared on Wed­nes­day and cover ev­ery­thing from the chem­i­cals per­mit­ted in frack­ing wells to the de­sign of the wells and the way in which they must be sealed when they even­tu­ally run dry.

The reg­u­la­tions have been so long in the mak­ing that the whole eco­nomic land­scape for the po­ten­tial ex­trac­tion of shale gas in the Ka­roo has changed fun­da­men­tally.

The dra­matic drop in the oil price has ren­dered shale prospects far less at­trac­tive than they were a year ago.

South Africa’s ma­jor holder of shale ex­plo­ration li­cences, Shell, an­nounced last month it was cool­ing its heels on the is­sue af­ter be­ing the chief pro­moter of shale gas ex­plo­ration in South Africa.

An­other as­pir­ing shale pro­ducer with a sig­nif­i­cant foothold in the Ka­roo, the Aus­tralian com­pany Chal­lenger En­ergy, wel­comed the new reg­u­la­tions on Fri­day.

The com­pany owns 90% of Bundu Gas and Oil Ex­plo­ration, which is look­ing at de­vel­op­ing its Crane­mere project in the south­ern Ka­roo in the Eastern Cape.

Robert Willes, man­ag­ing direc­tor of Chal­lenger En­ergy, said in a press re­lease the reg­u­la­tions were “a demon­stra­tion that progress to­wards the is­sue of ex­plo­ration rights con­tin­ues to be made” even though his com­pany still needed to re­view the con­tent of the reg­u­la­tions.

The po­ten­tial to ex­tract mas­sive amounts of nat­u­ral gas in the Ka­roo is still hy­po­thet­i­cal, with ex­ploratory drilling hav­ing been held up by the long wait for gov­ern­ment’s reg­u­la­tions.

How­ever, the pos­si­bil­ity of large-scale do­mes­tic gas re­sources has been de­scribed as “game chang­ing” by gov­ern­ment, although the is­sue of frack­ing has been met with vo­cif­er­ous re­sis­tance from South African en­vi­ron­men­tal groups.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.