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South Africa plans to accelerate offshore oil and gas exploration

PRETORIA South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa will accelerate offshore oil and gas exploration to reduce dependence on imports, President Jacob Zuma has said.

The government will spend 9.2 billion rand (about 730 million U.S. dollars) to develop the Saldanha Bay on the southwestern coast as an oil and gas hub, Zuma said in Pretoria.

Work on some projects has started with the phased gas pipeline routes having been defined, he told a media brief on the implementation of 'Operation Phakisa' which was launched last year.

Operation Phakisa is derived from Malaysia’s Big Fast Results Methodology which the Asian country is said to have used successfully to achieve rapid economic transformation.

The project also forms part of South Africa’s Nine Point Plan to reignite growth and boost job creation.

Once carried out, the project would produce 370,000 barrels of oil and gas per day, and create up to 130,000 jobs, with an annual contribution of 2.2 billion U.S. dollars to the GDP, Zuma said.

Meanwhile, environmental authorization has been approved for the Burgan Fuel Storage facility in the port of Cape Town, he added.

Zuma’s words come at a time when the country is gripped by a power shortage that has led to constant load shedding over the past nine months.

The exploration of oil and gas is expected to ease the worsening energy shortage.


President Zuma promises economic boost from 'Operation Phakisa'

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- South African President Jacob Zuma voiced optimism on Thursday that various sectors of the South African economy are set to receive a big boost from 'Operation Phakisa'.

The operation, adopted by the government from the Malaysia’s Big Fast Results approach to economic development, has been adopted by Zuma’s administration to fast-track economic growth and create much-needed jobs.

Zuma said the development of the country’s ocean economy has been the first priority of Operation Phakisa, which began last year.

"Opportunities are being explored in various areas, one being the repairing of rigs and the servicing of vessels.

According to Zuma, South Africa’s coastlines are capable of generating over four billion U.S. dollars and creating up to 316,000 jobs.

Thirty exploration wells will also be drilled to produce oil and gas.

Operation Phakisa has also taken an interest and focus on mining to build partnerships between the government and key stakeholders in the mining sector to unlock investment.

The operation has also focused on basic education to improve its quality by introducing information communication technology in delivery and management of education.

"The implementation of Operation Phakisa and Big Fast Results methodology has certainly changed the way government conducts its business and introduced a new approach of syndication to resolve issues," Zuma said.

South Africa to issue licences for shale gas exploration: Zuma

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The South African government will soon be issuing licences for the exploration of shale gas drilling through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, President Jacob Zuma has said.

Zuma was speaking in Pretoria on the occasion of the presentation of credentials by a number of new foreign heads of mission accredited to South Africa.

"It is this government’s hope that we, together with your respective governments, will find practical opportunities to enhance the economic opportunities the shale gas sector has to present," Zuma said.

Zuma quoted recent estimates as saying South Africa has eight largest shale gas reserves in the world and the Karoo area in the Northern Cape Province is believed to be holding up to 390-trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas reserves.

But Zuma did not say when the government will issue the licences for shale gas exploration or under what conditions these licences will be issued.

The exploration of shale gas is expected to ease the worsening energy shortage confronting the country which has been hard hit by constant power outages for nine months running.

"We continue to pursue the development of an energy mix as energy security is critical to economic growth and social development," Zuma said.

"We are also determined to see through much needed infrastructure development programmes at continental level which will integrate African economies," Zuma said.

South Africa, he said, is open for business and is part of a growing continent, which has nine of the world’s fastest growing economies.

Since the adoption of the National Infrastructure Plan in 2012, which laid the blue print for the transformation of South Africa’s economic landscape, the country has embarked on a massive infrastructure roll-out drive.

However, environmentalists have expressed strong opposition to the government’s move to explore shale gas. The Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) says shale gas reserves, globally, have been overstated and world leaders are misinformed in this regard.

There have been concerns about the effect the exploration activities will have on water quality and availability in areas where water is scarce.

America’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that South Africa might boast shale gas reserves of around 485 trillion cubic feet.

The gas would only be accessible by hydraulic fracturing or "fracking", which is to pump water and chemicals into rock at high pressure.

In April 2011, in response to opposition from environmental groups and the local community, South Africa’s government slapped a moratorium on fracking.

The South African cabinet has established an Inter-departmental Task Team to address concerns in developing shale gas in the country.

These concerns include environmental impact on ecosystems, waste management and water.



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