The huge shale gas reserve in the Karoo should not benefit only a few politically connected people, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said yesterday.
Shell SA is one of five companies that are seeking exploration licences in the Karoo, and its black economic empowerment (BEE) partner in its downstream business is Thebe Investments. The African National Congress’s Batho Batho Trust, through Thebe, effectively has a 12 percent stake in Shell SA Refining and a 14 percent stake in Shell SA Marketing.
Speaking in the National Assembly yesterday, Ms Shabangu said that the state would take a "direct interest" in the mining of shale gas in the Karoo.
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"The Mineral Resources Development Act has vested the country’s mineral resources in the hands of the state. Given the strategic nature of this potential huge resource, the state will have to take a direct interest in this issue on behalf of all South Africans," she said.
"This should not be allowed to degenerate into a few politically connected people benefiting."
Department of Mineral Resources spokeswoman Zingaphi Jakuja said this meant direct participation by the state-owned African Mining and Finance Company. " The state will take an active interest in this space," she said.
Shell SA upstream GM Jan Willem Eggink said he did not read Ms Shabangu’s comments as meaning a direct equity stake.
"I believe she will keep very close watch through the monitoring committee, but I am not sure if it means equity participation in some shape. The act allows for state participation in the production phase," he said.
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