The company wants approval to hold tests in a 1.5 million hectare (3.7 million acre) area covering 10 000 farms in KwaZulu-Natal for “initial exploration,” a notice published on Wednesday in the Durban-based Mercury newspaper shows. Rhino has applied to the Petroleum Agency South Africa for environmental authorisation to do the tests.
Rhino envisages a programme over three years, restricted to seismic surveys and the drilling of ten core boreholes. No fracking is proposed at this stage and a series of public meetings on the plans will start November 2, it said.
Towns that lie close to the targeted area include Richmond and Dundee, Mooi River and Nkandla, near where President Jacob Zuma has a private home.
South Africa’s shale gas reserves, concentrated in the semi-desert Karoo region and not in the area Rhino proposes to explore, could be the world’s eighth-biggest, the US Energy Information Administration said in 2013. The South African government estimates that enough gas can be discovered to bring a country that imports 70% of its crude-oil needs closer to supplying its own energy demand.
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