Strict conditions on fracking exploration

Companies granted permission to explore shale gas are expected to adhere to strict conditions.

Equipment used for the extraction of natural gas is viewed at a hydraulic fracturing site on June 19, 2012. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu on Tuesday said the companies granted permission to explore for shale gas in the Karoo must adhere to strict conditions.

On Friday, Cabinet announced that it would lift a 13-month moratorium on the exploration of shale gas in the region.

The decision has environmentalists up in arms, with some groups threatening to take legal action to halt the process.

Shabangu said exploratory mining will not include hydraulic fracturing, for now.

One of the key conditions is that mining be done under strict supervision of a monitoring committee.

Shabangu said there may around 485 trillion cubic metres of shale gas reserves in the Karoo.

"We see it as a potential for energising our country."

The minister said around R1 trillion could be pumped into the economy through shale gas mining.

Five companies have submitted their applications to be allowed to drill in the area.