According to Engineering News Online, the US has offered to share with South Africa lessons arising from a recent study into ways of reducing the environmental impact and improving the safety of America's fast-growing shale gas industry, which has expanded from almost nothing at the start of the century to supplying nearly 30% of that country's natural gas production.
The US government remained of the view that its shale gas resources, when developed with appropriate safeguards to protect public health, could play a material role in domestic energy production.
The offer was made by US Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman during the second US-South Africa Energy Dialogue, held in South Africa recently. Poneman and his delegation, which included energy and nonenergy government officials and agencies, had detailed discussions on prospects for shale gas, as well as on a range of other energy issues. Opportunities and risks associated with the exploitation of shale formations were spoken about "a lot"'. Also discussed were ways such exploitation could be conducted while protecting human health and the environment, Engineering News Online reports.
Poneman insisted, however, that the US would not seek to influence the outcome of South Africa's ongoing investigation of the potential costs and benefits associated with exploiting local shale gas opportunities. The South African review was already being contested by antifracking lobby groups, because the identities of those conducting the study had been kept confidential. A recent court ruling, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu was given until the end of January to supply the Treasure the Karoo Action Group with an affidavit stating why her department did not want to reveal details about the composition of the fracking task team. While the investigation was under way, a moratorium had been placed on shale gas prospecting.
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