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Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as fracking, has, in the past few decades, made available the gas in previously "tight" shale geologies. This has shaken up the energy sector worldwide by contributing to relatively low oil prices. Almost all the shale gas development has taken place in the US where production has increased from about 1-trillian to nearly 16-trillion cubic feet (tcf) over the past 25 years. There are indications that shale gas may be present in the semi-desert region of SA’s Karoo. The core region alone has an area of 400,000km². If a viable gas resource were to be developed in the Karoo, what impact would it have on the global shale gas market? And how would it affect the energy economy of SA? More realistic guesses — which is what they remain, in the absence of new exploration and testing — put the upper limit for gas in the Central Karoo at about 20tcf. This is a tiny resource by global standards. In terms of energy content, 20tcf of g...

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