Minister halts all fracking applications

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu has halted all applications for licences to prospect for shale gas in the Karoo using the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) method, her department said on Friday.

Until the conclusion of a feasibility study, no new applications would be accepted, nor would existing ones be finalised.

“Given the intensity and scale of the issue and the fact that this [shale gas exploration] has never been done before on our shores, my department will conduct a comprehensive study which will assist us to formulate our approach, after which we will go back to Cabinet,” Shabangu said in a statement.

She was considering sending a team of experts to other jurisdictions so that they could “draw lessons with regard to shale gas exploration”.

There was initial confusion that a recent moratorium applied only to new applications.

Many South Africans have voiced concern about fracking, particularly the agricultural sector, saying it could affect the economic survival and quality of life in rural communities.

Cabinet endorsed the department’s decision to place a moratorium on licences. Shell was among those applying for exploration rights.—Sapa

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