South Africa Shale Tests Encounter Gas at Karoo

Ministry reveals shale finds during tests in sensitive basin.

Map of Karoo Basin

Pockets of shale gas were encountered during test drilling in the semi-desert Karoo region of South Africa, according to the nation’s energy ministry. A total of 34 gas samples had been bottled and taken to laboratories after the government’s Council for Geosciences set out to drill a 3500-m stratigraphic hole in the Karoo to establish and test the occurrence of shale gas.

“The first pocket of gas was intercepted at 1734 m with a further substantial amount intercepted at 2467 m spanning a depth of 55 m,” said Gwede Mantashe, South African energy minister, during his budget vote in parliament on 18 May.

In 2017, geologists at the University of Johannesburg and three other institutions estimated the gas resource in the Karoo was probably 13 Tcf.

Earlier, the US Energy and Information Administration estimated the Karoo Basin’s technically recoverable shale-gas resource at 390 Tcf, then making it the eighth largest in the world and second largest in Africa behind Algeria.