Minister Jeff Radebe says South Africa needs a new refinery. Photo: Supplied
JOHANNESBURG - Energy Minister Jeff Radebe has called for the finalisation of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) as a matter of urgency in order to unlock the potential for oil and gas development in South Africa.

Delivering his Budget vote speech in Parliament yesterday, Radebe said that the conclusion of the MPRDA would bring clarity “on acreage both offshore and onshore as an alternative proposition for oil and gas exploration companies.” He said the rise in the oil price could stimulate appetite for gas and oil exploration.

“Consequently, South Africa must be ready to capture this opportunity,” said Radebe, adding that gas was emerging as the main hydrocarbon component of a more sustainable mix to power the world’s economy.

Radebe’s call comes in the wake of Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe saying on Tuesday that the MPRDA Bill was now before the National Council of Provinces.

The MPRDA governs the exploration and production of oil and natural gas.

Mantashe also called for the urgent finalisation of the bill, charging that it was key in entrenching regulatory and policy certainty necessary for investment, thereby attainment of sustainable growth, development and transformation in the sector.

Radebe said South Africa should prioritise natural gas, whether imported via regional pipelines or liquefied natural gas terminals at strategic port locations as the country migrated to a low-carbon economy.

He said the country's mooted gas-to-power programme was still on track, with substantial work done in relation to the required studies at the country’s ports, especially Richards Bay and Coega.

Radebe said that he had instructed the IPP Office to resuscitate the programme “and take a lead in engaging with the different stakeholders that the country is working towards a single goal.”

He said that the initial phase of the gas programme would use imported liquefied natural gas, while looking at the options in relation to the regional gas and the domestic shale gas in the long term.

Radebe also reiterated the government's intentions to build a new refinery.

He said that the South African refineries faced major problems, including the provision of cleaner fuels.

“Our refineries are not equipped to produce the latest fuels required by modern vehicle engines to reduce vehicle emissions and improve efficiency,” he said.

- BUSINESS REPORT