outh Africa needs to develop its own oil and gas projects to reduce its energy reliance on other countries, says the department of mineral resources and energy director-general Jacob Mbele.
Addressing an energy colloquium on Thursday (15 July), Mbele said it was the government’s view that the country could not solely rely on renewable energy plans such as solar and wind generation, and that gas would play a key part of the country’s energy mix going forward.
“It is the view of the department that we must sustainably continue to develop our oil and gas in the country,” he said. “It is the view of the department that energy security requires the development and optimal use of our indigenous resources to mitigate against geopolitical risks, as we have recently seen in Europe.”
Mbele added that the development and optimal use of South Africa’s ‘indigenous’ energy resources will help re-industrialisation, manufacturing and, ultimately job creation in the country.
“The development and optimal use of our indigenous resources will help reduce exogenous shocks – such as commodity price and foreign exchange rate fluctuations – arising from importing primary energy.”
Focus on gas
Mbele added that hydrocarbons, including oil and gas, would remain part of South Africa’s energy mix into the foreseeable future. He added that the versatile use of gas application technologies gives the country ‘optionality’ for its energy pathways and will not lock the country into perpetual gas use going forward.
“Let me also remind you that the use of internal combustion engines in Africa, including South Africa, is predicted to continue in the medium term, thus requiring conventional liquid fuels. Availability of indigenous oil resources and processing or refining capacity in the country is critical for the security of supply.
The biggest risk we face as a country as we develop our policies, plans or pathway to decarbonisation is that we have become litigious – which inhibits or delays project implementation and exacerbates the energy security challenges.”
“We need to get over our disagreements that are at times based on narrow considerations, for example: looking at gas only in the context of electricity generation and therefore objecting to the development of indigenous upstream oil and gas projects ‘because there is solar and wind for electricity generation’.”