Shale gas fracking in South Africa will need water license

ednamolewa  GovernmentZASouth African water minister Edna Molewa. (Image source: GovernmentZA/Flickr) Companies seeking shale gas exploration permits in South Africa will need to apply for a water usage licence, the country's water and environmental affairs minister Edna Molewa has revealed

South Africa last year lifted a moratorium on shale gas exploration in its Karoo region, where the extraction technique, known as fracking, could tap what is believed to be one of the world’s biggest reserves of the energy source.

The decision had aroused criticism from environmentalists who said that water supplies could be polluted by fracking, in which pressurised water, chemicals and sand are pumped underground to release gas trapped in shale formations. Water is also a scarce commodity in the vast, semi-arid Karoo region.

Molewa said, “I have taken the decision to issue a notice of intention to declare fracking a controlled activity in terms of the National Water Act. What this means is that fracking becomes a water use, thus requiring a water use licence.”

The regulatory process around fracking in South Africa has been slow and no exploration permits have been issued yet.

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