South Africa: The Battle for Gas is Far From Over

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  • Shell’s seismic survey may have been halted, but Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe is pursuing an ambitious vision to reshape our energy future, powered by gas. 
  • On 14 December 2021, just as South Africans were beginning their annual summer holiday slow down, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) published a Gas Master Plan “base case report” for public comment.
  • South Africans were given until 31 January, this coming Monday, to provide comment.
  • The 100-page report paints a shiny picture of a gas-powered future reliant on our supposed vast offshore and onshore gas deposits, but is light on detail and barely touches on the risks.

According to the report, South Africa could:

  • Convert six of Eskom’s older coal power plants to run on gas,
  • Convert trucks and taxis to run off gas instead of diesel,
  • Build thousands of kilometres of new gas pipelines.

In reality, these ideas come with many risks. One of the most obvious is that gas is traded in dollars and prices fluctuate wildly, driven by demand in China and Europe. South Africa has offshore gas prospects, but according to gas experts, it is likely that gas extracted from beneath our oceans would be liquified, put on to ships and sold into the international market where we would have to buy it back, but priced in dollars.

When asked why the report failed to identify this as a risk, the DMRE said in a written statement: “That is the purpose of this public consultation exercise. To solicit further inputs from the public.”

If so, the decision to release the report over the holiday season was hardly ideal, given that amaBhungane understands it has been in the pipeline for some time.

The report and contact details can be accessed on the DMRE’s website HERE

Author: Susan Comrie

Read more of this exclusive story from the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism HERE



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