File image: New Energy Minister David Mahlobo. IOL. (Bongani Mbatha).

CAPE TOWN - Newly appointed Energy Minister, David Mahlobo has commanded his department to conclude the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) “with immediate effect”. 

The IRP will serve South Africa’s blueprint for future energy needs. 

Notably, Mahlobo was in the firing line by members in the National Council of Provinces in Parliament on October 1. 

The council grilled Mahlobo about the sale of South Africa’s strategic fuel stocks in 2015. 

In addition, they also hurled questions at the government and how it intended to proceed with its nuclear build programme. 

“I directed my team (at the Energy Department) to conclude the IRP with Cabinet with immediate effect so that we have policy certainty and we can boost investor confidence”, said Mahlobo. 

Mahlobo added that South Africa’s security of energy supply is crucial and the IRP should inform these security requirements. 

Suspicious

Despite Mahlobo’s commitment to concluding the IRP by November, his ambitious plans have raised suspicion. 

The haste with the IRP was “suspicious”, especially since it is an extensive document, said DA spokesperson on energy, Gordon Mackay. 

“Indications by the new Energy Minister, David Mahlobo, that the Integrated Resource Plan will be moved forward and ready by the end of November are alarming and are yet another instance of government sending mixed signals on nuclear energy”, added Mackay. 

Mahlobo responded to these contentions by saying that energy was a “weighty issue”. 

“This preoccupation with nuclear has nothing to do with our policy positions. I’m not in the business of tenders, but to ensure we have energy security and I won’t be deterred,” he said, adding that nuclear energy would be pursued at a "scale and pace" the country could afford. 

In addition, Mahlobo said at the opening session of the 24th Africa Oil Week conference at the Cape Town International Convention Centre that there is growing optimism about the potential of Africa’s oil and gas development. 

The Minister expressed his satisfaction in being associated with the Africa Oil Week. 

“We are however of the firm view that given the interest in our offshore acreage, we will soon be producers ourselves”, said Mahlobo. 

He added that energy is a resource that should be used towards a growth trajectory in the next 50 years. 

READ ALSO: Mahlobo: Africa upbeat about oil and gas future

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE