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Shell gets cold feet on SA shale-gas

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 14.07.51FROM TIMES LIVE – SUNDAY TIME SA: ARTICLE BY LONI PRINSLOO 15 March 2015

Shell gets cold feet on SA shale-gas

Multinational oil and gas company Royal Dutch Shell is pulling its top shale-gas man out of South Africa, an indication that companies are growing increasingly frustrated with government delays over shale-gas legislation.

This week, Business Times was told that Jan-Willem Eggink – whom Shell sent to South Africa from Libya to monitor South Africa’s shale gas opportunity – would be pulled out of the country in coming weeks. Other highly skilled staff would follow him.

“While government is sitting around farting, these companies are shifting their money away from South Africa and our economy will lose billions,” said a member of parliament, who declined to be named.

Shell said on Friday that as part of a review due to falling oil prices, the company had adjusted its activities in shale oil and gas opportunities outside of the Americas.

It also said it had adjusted staffing in local exploration in South Africa. The company said it needed clarity on legislation and technical regulations in the country before making any further decisions.

“Should attractive commercial terms be put in place, the Karoo project could compete favourably within Shell’s global shale gas and oil portfolio. We will continue our ongoing consultation with government [and] industry about the long-term opportunities of shale gas exploration and the regulations that will govern this industry,” it said.

But the parliamentary source said: “Shell will resist saying it publicly, but they have given up on the government getting it together any time soon to fix the position of oil and gas companies in the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act [MPRDA] or to release fracking [hydraulic fracturing] regulations.”

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Shell pulling back from shale in South Africa: Reuters 16 March 2015

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell is pulling back from its shale projects in South Africa due to lower energy prices although it is still seeking an exploration license for the onshore Karoo Basin, its country manager said on Monday.

A more than halving of crude oil prices since June last year has put high cost projects such as shale gas exploration in jeopardy around the globe, Shell South Africa Chairman Bonang Mohale told Johannesburg station Talk Radio 702.

“The reason to go to a low cost holding position … is as a result of a difficult period for world (prices),” Mohale said.

Shell’s retreat is a blow to the South African government, which has been criticised by oil firms for delaying issuing exploration licenses, most notably in the Karoo, which is believed to hold up to 390 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable reserves.

Shell has been waiting for six years for an exploration licence.

“What is of concern is regulatory uncertainty,” Mohale said. “We have waited inordinately long for licenses.”

Green groups and land owners in the Karoo, a vast semi-desert wilderness stretching across the heart of South Africa, have argued that exploring for shale by fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, would cause huge environmental damage.

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