Johannesburg - Cabinet has approved the gazetting of technical regulations on petroleum exploration and exploitation, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said on Thursday.
“The proposed regulations prescribe good international petrol industry practices and standards, which enhance safe exploration and production of all petroleum... and will further ensure that petroleum exploration is conducted in a socially and environmentally balanced manner,” she told reporters in Pretoria.
She was speaking on the outcomes of the executive's regular fortnightly Wednesday meeting.
“These regulations will now be gazetted for a period of 30 days for public comment,” Shabangu said.
A moratorium on processing applications for shale gas exploration in the Karoo was imposed by the mineral resources department in 2011 and a technical task team was established to investigate socio-economic and environmental impact and any associated risks of shale gas exploration and exploitation.
The investigation report was concluded and published last year and made specific recommendations, Shabangu said.
The primary recommendation was a need to ensure that the country's regulatory framework was robust enough to ensure that if hydraulic fracturing associated with shale gas exploration and exploitation was approved, any negative impact would be mitigated.
She said government was satisfied that the technical regulations had addressed the recommendations in the investigation report.
An interdepartmental committee had been established to look at strengthening regulations.
Those included were mineral resources, water and environmental affairs, science and technology, energy, the council for geoscience, and the Petroleum Agency of SA.
“We have a responsibility as government to ensure security of energy supply for the country, and to explore energy sources that will improve the country's energy mix, grow the economy, and contribute to job creation,” Shabangu said.
“This will also enable us to contribute to the developmental objectives and targets set out in the National Development Plan,” she said. - Sapa