Government’s new plan won’t save South Africa from critical gas shortage

The government’s recently released draft Gas Master Plan fails to address the urgent issue of South Africa’s dwindling natural gas supply, which will plunge within three to four years.

This is according to Business Leadership South Africa CEO Busi Mavuso, who warned about this potential “gas cliff” earlier in the year.

In March of this year, Mavuso warned that the country faces a new blow to energy availability with an end in natural gas supply just over two years away.

The current main source of supply, two gas fields in Mozambique operated by Sasol, will not supply South African clients from mid-2026 since Sasol will use the remaining gas itself.

As with electricity, there have been numerous warnings that this was coming. However, policy inaction and a lack of guaranteed investment have stifled progress to mitigate the problem.

Mavuso said a lack of alternative infrastructure means South Africa faces an almost inevitable supply interruption.

Many households rely on gas for cooking, lighting, and heating. In the manufacturing sector, gas is the cheapest source of energy.

There is currently no alternative to gas for most manufacturing industries that use it, especially given the unstable electricity supply.

Other energy sources, such as diesel, fuel, and oil, are prohibitively expensive. This means many large-scale manufacturers depend on gas.

Should the gas supply be interrupted, it will put 70,000 jobs at risk for those employed in businesses that rely on gas as a key input.

“It is a crisis that can only be avoided with a coordinated and rapid plan between business and government,” Mavuso said.

BLSA CEO Busi Mavuso

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) recently drafted the Gas Master Plan to address the looming crisis and table a credible strategy to avoid it. 

However, in her latest newsletter, Mavuso said that while this plan contains many laudable principles and objectives, it does not address the major issue facing the economy. 

“The plan has the security of supply as a core objective and models the impending day zero in its analysis of existing gas sources but then does not set out a clear plan to deal with it,” she said.

“It notes it is ‘quite urgent’ to engage with regional gas producers to unlock additional supply but does not seriously engage with whether there is enough that can be tapped in time to avoid day zero, nor with how it could be accessed and brought to the sites that need it.”

“This is a major missed opportunity.”

She explained that a vision for gas supply and development for the country needs to start with the most urgent needs and then plan out how the system should evolve from there. 

However, it should not be entirely short-term in focus – it must set out a comprehensive vision. 

“In some respects, the plan’s long-term vision is solid, but on the most urgent priorities, it simply sidesteps them,” she said.

“Industrial gas users and government have been engaging on just what can be done to avoid day zero, and the masterplan would have been a good opportunity to set out a clear plan to coordinate the efforts of government and industry.” 

“The fact that it does not leaves one feeling that the DMRE is simply not taking the looming crisis seriously enough.”

Mavuso acknowledged that this plan is still in draft state and could still be amended to address this weakness.

However, she emphasised that the gas cliff is just 24 months away, leaving barely any time to develop the kinds of projects that will be needed to avoid it.

“The DMRE must demonstrate it is committed to getting policy right and willing to engage with those who are affected and take seriously their input. The Gas Master Plan is an opportunity to do so.”


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