Shell plans shale gas search in Karoo

Oil major Royal Dutch Shell plans to explore for shale gas in South Africa's Karoo basin.

Oil major Royal Dutch Shell plans to explore for shale gas in South Africa’s Karoo basin, it said in an advertisement in the Sunday Times

The company said it had applied to Petroleum Agency South Africa for exploration rights in the south-western Karoo basin to assess viable unconventional gas resources.

Precise sites within the proposed 90 000 square kilometre exploration area had not yet been identified, the company said.

Shale gas is a natural gas produced from shale, a type of sedimentary rock consisting of clay and some organic matter.

Shell said it would, from next week, hold meetings to solicit views from the public and compile an environmental assessment of the project.

A number of local and foreign firms such as BHP Billiton and Sasol have shown interest in gas exploration in South Africa.

If successfully developed, shale gas could become a viable alternative for South Africa’s power generation, which now relies on coal for 95% of supply. It could also help reduce the country’s carbon footprint.

In the United States and some other countries, environmentalists have raised concern that the methods used to extract shale gas could lead to contamination of water supplies.—Reuters


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