It’s crunch time for oil and gas in SA. Amid a flurry of somewhat lurid reporting on the decision of Shell to sell its share of Shell-branded forecourts in SA — nattily described as “downstream” in energy vernacular — we may have missed the point.

In fact, a huge struggle is playing out over the future of the industry, and the unnoticed passing of a deadline two weeks ago regarding a sanctioned Russian bank and an SA refinery tells us the future is murky. The passing of the Upstream Petroleum Resources Development Bill last week is a part of this environment, and one of the outcomes of this wrestling match could yet be the departure of the Western oil majors. But it’s far from over...

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