FILE PHOTO: A Total gas station is seen in Libreville

JOHANNESBURG – The Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources yesterday said it hoped that new legislation would be developed to ensure that the gas industry benefits all South Africans after French multinational oil and gas company Total announced its biggest offshore oil discovery in the country last week. 

The committee said President Cyril Ramaphosa’s mooted reconfiguration of the state would lead to the extinction of the glaring lines between the roles of the departments of energy and mineral resources,

Committee chairperson Sahlulele Luzipho said: “With the proposed reconfiguration of government, I believe we may have a way of managing the glaring lines between the departments of energy and mineral resources,” 

Last week Total said the potential output from the reservoir could be around 1 billion barrels of total resources of gas and condensate.

The discovery, which has been described as a catalytic find, is expected to provide a R1 trillion boost for the economy over the next 20 years. Luzipho said it should lead to the beneficiation of local instead of overseas interests.

“We have seen in previous discoveries the majority ownership or benefits going to offshore companies,” he said. “It would be ideal to deal with regulations to ensure that all South Africans  benefit.” The gas find comes as the state plans to boost its gas network. It has previously said the country’s gas industry is undergoing rapid expansion and it wants to import natural gas from neighbouring countries such as Mozambique.

Luzipho said the committee also wanted better monitoring and intervention as 22 alleged copper thieves remain trapped in an underground shaft in Gloria mine, in Mpumalanga, which was owned by the Gupta family before it went into business rescue in 2018.

“We have asked the department to conduct an audit of the cost implication of closing these mines. Currently, the estimated cost of closure is R40 billion.

"We cannot turn a blind eye to illegal mining. We need to find a better monitoring system and intervention,” Luzipho said,.

“If you have a car, and you are no longer using it, you declare it unroadworthy, and you give it to someone else. The same should be done to mines,” he said.