The Petroleum Agency of SA (PetroSA) has indicated that the first exploration rights in contemplation of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) may be granted by the end of this month. These will initially only permit exploration for shale gas reserves and, if viable reserves are identified, production rights will need to be obtained before the reserves can be exploited. The production of shale gas could form an important element of SA’s future energy mix and create much-needed jobs and revenue for the fiscus. In our experience of exploration and fracking in other jurisdictions and other large infrastructure projects in SA, projects can be stalled by legal process. While this may be inevitable in projects that involve newer technologies such as fracking, operators should consider strategies to minimise the costs and risks of delays by ensuring the concerns and needs of affected parties are tackled and that the outcome is positive for communities, the government and other stakeholders. Abov...

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