A group of environmental activists are upping the ante in their battle to prevent exploration for oil and gas off the KwaZulu-Natal coast. According to a study by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, SA has potential oil and gas reserves of about 9-billion and 11-billion barrels respectively off its coast. To realise that potential and help the economy reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the government’s Operation Phakisa has set a target of sinking 30 exploration wells offshore in the next 10 years. Drilling for oil is expected to get under way early in 2019 after Thursday’s announcement by mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe in Cape Town that SA will relax a moratorium on gas and oil exploration licences, implemented earlier in 2018, to allow exploration and production applications already in the system to be granted. “This amendment will ensure that applications currently in our system are processed and granted,” Mantashe told an oil and gas industry meeting. “W...

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