Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said that the fight to kill downstream exploration was going to slow down development.
MINERAL Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe on Tuesday said that the fight to kill downstream exploration was going to slow down development.
Mantashe delivered a keynote address at the 2022 Africa Energy Indaba, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
The annual Africa Energy Indaba brings experts from around the continent to discuss and formulate energy policy.
Mantashe said that the recent oil discoveries in Namibia by petroleum giant Shell were a huge push for development in that country and the rest of the region.
Mantashe criticised the treatment that Shell received in South Africa when the company tried to conduct seismic survey.
“The companies that have been making the finds of oil and gas in Namibia have been harassed out of South Africa because we want to be an ‘island of angels’ in a sea of poverty. It’s the most dangerous tactic for us in South Africa, they go out and make huge oil finds elsewhere,” he said.
Last week, Shell lost its bid to appeal against an interim interdict for seismic survey operations. This comes after small fishing communities protesting along Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and Western Cape shores voicing their stance against seismic activity.
Mantashe said the country’s oceans, especially in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal had the potential to be the next growth point in energy, which might lead them to be a sector on its own.
During his speech, Mantashe also emphasised the importance of countries fostering stronger ties on the inter-African oil and gas trade.
“Already, South Africa imports the bulk of its crude requirements from African producers, including Nigeria and Angola. There is ample opportunity for a massive expansion of gas trade, especially from the Gulf of Guinea and the broader West Coast of Africa, where we have many producers and some already exporting.”
On the just transition, Mantashe said it must aid development and address historical inequalities, not undermine, and exacerbate them.
“We must not be ambivalent about the just energy transition debate. The assumed pendulum swing, or what others call ‘accelerated transition’, intent on replacing one system with another in a flash, is both irrational and dangerous,” he said.
The just transition was offered R131 billion at COP26 by France, Germany, the UK and the US, as well as the European Union to accelerate South Africa’s transition from high carbon to low carbon economy.
Mantashe, who has been under fire for slow procurement of renewable energy, said Africa must define its own just energy transition strategy, otherwise developed economies would employ their strategies on it.
“You want to give us R131bn to move faster away from coal, and yet coal gives us R130bn turnover in a year”, he said.
Mantashe said in response to a question that he did not know what the just transition funds would be used for.
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