SA energy chief backs oil, gas hunt despite opposition

‘Exploration and development cannot be the end,’ he said in a video released by his department on Monday. ‘We must pursue it until it happens.’
Image: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

South Africa’s energy minister is adamant that the nation must forge ahead with offshore oil and gas exploration, despite recent legal setbacks to the development of the resources.

Environmental and community organisations have sued companies including Shell Plc over recent months, winning temporary interdicts that caused the searches to be called off. They’ve argued that seismic surveys are harmful to marine life and criticized the process used to consult those who potentially could be affected by the work.

Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe, who accuses the groups of deterring investment, said he has been meeting with traditional leaders and residents of the Eastern Cape province to discuss the hunt for the oil and gas hunt — which has to continue.

“Exploration and development cannot be the end,” he said in a video released by his department on Monday. “We must pursue it until it happens.”

Mantashe’s pro-fossil-fuels stance runs counter to that of other top government officials, who are pressing for a quicker move toward cleaner sources of energy. The planned transition includes the use of gas, which along with oil is primarily imported by the nation.

Oil discoveries have been made in recent weeks just over the maritime border shared with Namibia, while some exploration work is still planned in nearby South African waters.

“The recent oil discoveries in Namibia are a massively welcome impetus for development in that country, but also for us on the tip of the continent, and the region,” Mantashe said in a Twitter posting last week.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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