UPDATE 1-Sasol keen for piece of S.Africa shale gas action

Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:44am EDT
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* S.Africa keen to develop shale gas industry

* Sasol wants to invest in the sector

By Ed Stoddard

JOHANNESBURG, March 10 (Reuters) - South African petrochemicals group Sasol Ltd is keen to invest in a domestic shale industry once it gets off the ground, its chief executive said, in a potential challenge to oil major Royal Dutch Shell.

South Africa's cabinet proposed new regulations to govern exploration for shale gas late last year after it lifted a 2012 moratorium on the activity in the central Karoo region.

Fracking in the region might tap what is believed to be some of the world's biggest reserves of the energy source and the government wants to develop an industry that it sees as a potential game-changer in Africa's largest economy.

"I am very excited because of the technologies we can bring to the table. We've got shale gas upstream experience in British Columbia," Sasol Chief Executive David Constable said on Monday.

"We want to get involved and participate and monetize that gas in country with gas to liquid, gas to power, gas to chemicals," he said after the group posted a 26 percent rise in half-year earnings.

Shell has applied for an exploration licence and once all of the new regulations are in place it is expected to be near the front of the line.   Continued...