News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Wednesday June 26th 2019

Cape Chamber welcomes gas industry


The Cape Chamber of Commerce (CCC) has urged international oil and gas companies to invest and set up their headquarters in Cape Town, punting the City’s strategic position.

The CCC was pushing the merits of the city for companies operating on Africa’s west coast gas fields at the Southern Africa Oil and Gas Summit this week.

But at the summit environmental activist Jonathan Deal warned global gas companies to “think twice” before investing in shale gas explorations and mining in the Karoo.

Addressing international and local delegates on the second day of the summit in Cape Town on Tuesday, CCC President Michael Bagraim said the city was “well placed” between the oil fields of West Africa and “new gas and oil discoveries,” on the continent’s west coast.

He said as the search for oil moved to the “south-west” of the Mother City, “we become an even better location for a hub to service the oil and gas industry”.

He said the city’s harbour was “well developed” for container traffic and was not affected by congestion when compared to other harbours to the east of the city.

He said Saldanha Bay harbour, 100 km north of Cape Town, had “many acres of deep water” where oil rigs could be serviced and there was “plenty of space available on shore”.

Speaking at the same platform, Deal said foreign investors should “think twice” before investing in shale gas extraction in the Karoo.

Deal, who is the chairman of environmental lobby group Treasure Karoo Action Group, (TKAG), said “fracking” was “wholly inappropriate” for South African conditions and “applicants and the government would be challenged in the courts”.

“I am not convinced that the economics of shale gas mining stack up in favour of the development…I believe that the proponents of fracking have roundly failed to prove their case,” he said.

He said exploring for shale gas in the Karoo would add “little of value compared to the risks of exposing SA unnecessarily to the same hazards and costs that the country would face in production (of shale gas)”.

He said that the government had an “established inability” to monitor mining operations, enforce safety standards, ensure technical compliance or prosecute mining companies that violated environmental laws.

He said the Department of Environmental and Water Affairs had admitted this year in a report that there were 53 mines in the country operating without licences and more than 5 800 abandoned mines would have to be rehabilitated using taxpayers money.

He said the R200m was the bill to solve the problem of acid mine drainage in the town of Carolina in Mpumalanga as a result of the state’s inability to ensure environmental safeguards were adhered to.

Deal has opposed licensing for shale gas explorations in the Karoo saying such explorations, if successful, “will automatically results in the conversion of licenses to full scale production.”

Susan Shabangu the minister of mineral resources lifted a moratorium on applications for shale gas explorations in the Karoo in September this year. – Francis Hweshe

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