South Africa lifts fracking ban in Karoo region

oikl  mrpbpsFracking involves pumping of pressurised water, chemicals and sand underground to release gas trapped in rocks. (Image source: mrpbps/Flickr)South Africa has lifted a ban on using fracking to explore for shale gas in the Karoo region

 

The decision will boost the local economy as fracking will tap into some of the region's huge shale gas reserves.

According to Collins Chabane, a minister in the president’s office, the cabinet had decided on the step after a study alleviated safety concerns over the method.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves pumping of pressurised water, chemicals and sand underground to release gas trapped in rock formations.

Oil major Shell said last year it hoped to invest US$200mn in shale gas exploration in the Karoo region and the company welcomed the government's decision.

According to an initial study commissioned by the US energy information administration, South Africa had 485 trillion cu ft of technically recoverable shale gas resources, located mostly in the vast semi-arid Karoo Basin.

The reserves could be a long-term solution for the energy problems of Africa's largest economy, which is under pressure to boost its supply of electricity and cut its dependence on coal.

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