South Africa pushes oil legislation amid environmental backlash

A South African oil and gas industry lobby is pushing for the finalization of new legislation that will provide greater certainty for explorers and producers as activists step up pressure to curtail the use of fossil fuels. 

The Upstream Petroleum Resources Development Bill, which provides for hydrocarbons to be regulated separately from mining, has been in the works for years and was finally approved by the National Assembly on Thursday.

It will now be sent to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence before being signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa.   

“There’s a window of opportunity at the moment to encourage investment,” Adrian Strydom, executive director of the South African Oil & Gas Alliance, said by phone.

“We need to make sure this legislation works for us and really speed up implementation so we can get started.”

The legislation will ensure the orderly and sustainable development of petroleum resources, the increased participation of Black South Africans in the industry and integrated production and exploration rights, according to its preamble. 

Environmental groups have blocked the exploration of hydrocarbons in South African waters by Shell and other companies through legal action. TotalEnergies is planning to look for resources off the West Coast after making earlier discoveries.

South Africa currently has virtually no commercial oil production and relies on imports and synthetic products to meet its fuel needs.  


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