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Cabinet endorses moratorium on natural-gas drilling in the Karoo region

South Africa’s Cabinet endorsed the Department of Mineral Resources’ (DMR’s) decision to declare a moratorium on natural-gas drilling in the Karoo region, government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said on Thursday.

The Cabinet also appointed a task team to investigate the implications of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The team would be led by the DMR and also include inputs from the departments of Trade and Industry and Science and Technology.

“Cabinet has made it very clear that clean environment together with all the ecological aspects will not be compromised,” said Manyi.

The moratorium was issued after pleads from the Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG), an organisation established to promote the environmentally sustainable development of the Karoo, submitted a written objection to energy giant Shell’s application to use fracking in its search for shale gas in South Africa.

The group urged government not only to put an “immediate end” to Shell’s application, but also to decline any future fracking exploration in the Karoo.