20 July 2014 – Following President Jacob Zuma’s confirmation during his State of Nation address last month that the South African government is planning to push ahead with shale gas exploration in the Karoo, training company Amabhubesi Conference & Training will be hosting a two-day shale gas conference in Randburg, Johannesburg, on July 23 and 24, which will focus on how shale gas can be a game changer in the South African economy.
“South Africa’s energy policy is going through a rethink in the highest corridors of power with government declaring an interest in coal and reconsidering its Integrated Resource Plan focus on nuclear, while also showing a keen focus on natural gas, including shale gas, and hydropower,” says Amabhubesi event coordinator Navin Desai.
He adds that, with the shale gas revolution being well debated in the country currently and with much discussion addressing the impact on society, the environment and the economy, Amabhubesi is creating a discussion platform through this conference on the expectations for shale gas development.
Last month, The Citizen indicated in an article that the World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa (WWF-SA) felt that water production areas and water systems were being threatened by coal mining and also that shale gas exploration in the Karoo would similarly disrupt the social fabric of the area.
The article further mentioned that fracking, a technique that involves pumping a mixture of water and chemicals under high pressure underground to free natural gas trapped in shale, would pollute underground water.
WWF-SA freshwater programme senior manager Christine Colvin further argues in the article that, with the current plans for expansion of coal mining and shale gas exploration, the country’s economy will shift from being an energy-constrained economy to being a water-constrained economy.
Moreover, WWF-SA Living Planet Unit head Saliem Fakir indicates that Zuma’s address failed to mention how the proposed energy solutions will address the country’s immediate energy needs.
As a result, Desai points out that the conference will in particular focus on the challenges and opportunities associated with this type of development.
Desai highlights that policy considerations on the latest Draft Regulatory Framework Policy will also be explored during the conference, which Amabhubesi hopes will create a much greater understanding of government’s intentions with shale gas exploration.
Speakers at the conference include advisory firm PwC oil and gas director Chris Bredenhann, Karoo Action Group CEO Jonathan Deal, con- sulting firm SRK Consulting principal hydro-geologist Peter Rosewarne and law firm Webber Wentzel mining energy and natural resource partner Patrick Leyden.
Law firm ENSAfrica oil and gas specialist Dr Luke Havemann is also scheduled to speak at the conference, while Cape Penisula University of Technology Energy Institute professor Philip Lloyd, South African Bureau of Standards trade economist Geoffrey Chapman, North-West University economics lecturer Requier Wait, Master Drilling Group executive technical director Koos Jordaan and Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development planning and policy coordination director Paul Hardcastle are all expected to speak at the conference.
*Zandile Mavuso, Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu -Mining Weekly