The government looks set to strengthen state-owned oil company PetroSA, with Energy Minister Dipuo Peters hinting it would in future compete with international oil companies.
A stronger PetroSA translates into a strong government presence in key segments of the local petroleum industry. For instance, PetroSA is pursuing entry into the downstream market, and might sell and distribute refined petroleum products.
Ms Peters said at a New Age business briefing yesterday that PetroSA should emulate national oil companies such as Angola's Sonangol and Ghana's National Petroleum Company, which "have more operational and strategic autonomy" than PetroSA.
She said: "PetroSA has ambitions for the future, which, when fulfilled, will have a positive effect on the development of our country." It was important such plans were supported "because, as we know, major (national oil companies) of more developed nations follow a commercially oriented strategy and compete with international oil companies, while delivering on their development mandates at home," she said.
The government has already incorporated iGas, which is responsible for the development of the hydrocarbon gas industry, into PetroSA.
Ms Peters said PetroSA's project to produce gas from a field off SA's south coast was making progress. Project Ikhwezi is meant to supplement supplies from existing gas fields to extend the Mossel Bay gas-to-liquids refinery's life span. The first well was expected to produce gas from mid-2013.
"I must make the point that strengthening (PetroSA) in no way reduces the role and space of the private sector," she said.
Ms Peters again argued the case for shale gas exploration. She hoped the government-appointed task team's report on fracking in the Karoo would give the green light, she said.
"We cannot allow a blessing to lie fallow.... If shale gas is one of the blessings, we are going to go for it." Ms Peters said that SA's gold mines had used fracking.
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