South Africa’s government is reviewing five shale gas exploration licenses in the semi-arid Karoo basin. The recommendations are expected to be finalized soon, after the delay that was caused by the environmental objections, Reuters reported.
According to Rigzone, the first shale gas exploration license might be granted by the end of September 2017.
Environmentalists were against the operation in the sparsely populated region, known for its rugged scenery and home to rare species, such as the mountain zebra and riverine rabbit.
Acting Petroleum Agency SA’s (PASA) Chief Executive, Lindiwe Mekwe, told Reuters that Royal Dutch Shell, Falcon Oil, and Gas and Bundu Gas & Oil are among five firms whose applications were being reviewed by the regulator.
PASA would make recommendations to Minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane, to decide on the license awards.
“We anticipate that the minister will be in a position to make a determination during the second or third quarter,” Mekwe said.
“If the decision is made this year, the exploration rights will be valid for a period of three years. Exploration activities should commence within three years,” she added.
South Africa is aiming to replace its decreasing offshore gas reserves and reduce the dependence on coal to fuel power plants.