AEON Project Archive

This site is an archive of a project of AEON

SHALEGAS in SA - GASHsa / ShaleGASsa  ShaleGASSA*

GASHSA and ShaleGASSA are Karoo Shale Gas programmes linked to Earth Stewardship Science Research and Capacity Building at AEON/NMMU to avoid Shale Gas in the Karoo becoming another case of a resource curse for South Africa’

For the latest updates in the media please consult:

Vision - to address the exploration, production, environmental ramifications and public acceptance of shale gas exploitation in SA

PartnersGFZ-AEON, South African universities, South African government institutions, international and national energy companies

Steering Committee - GFZ-AEON, each industry sponsor, PASA in advisory role


The last few years have seen important developments in alternative exploration plays related to energy. One of these is Shale Gas which, along with tight gas sands and coalbed methane, has emerged as a new major gas resource in the lower 48 states of the USA over the last 10 years, and is now expanding into Europe ( ) and elsewhere ( ).

Annual natural gas production from shale gas reservoirs in the US is approximately 1.0 Tcf and comes from more than 40,000 shale gas wells (around 6-10% of total natural-gas production in the US today; numbers vary according to reference).

As far as Africa is concerned, sub-Saharan shale gas has been estimated at 300 Tcf, and South Africa’s highest potential is concentrated in the Karoo Basin Exploration of the Karoo Basin started in the early 20th century. During the 1960’s to early 1970’s, seismic data was acquired and about 25 exploration wells were drilled with very limited success within the proposed study area which covers the southern part of the Karoo Basin. Dry holes were attributed to low productivities of the tight Paleozoic reservoirs and drilling problems were associated with the high density of Jurassic intrusions.

Exploration in the southern part of the Karoo Basin effectively ceased during the late 1970’s.

At present, new insights into unlocking the potential of tight conventional and unconventional reservoirs, combined with new drilling and completion technologies might be successfully applied in the southern part of the Karoo Basin.

Initial 3-year focus will be on building a GEODATABASE

- content defined by steering committee

- located at NMMU/AEON with web access

- PASA to provide maps and logs as per their regulations

- published data to be collated, tabulated and archived

- samples from the field and cores/cuttings to be collected

- shallow drilling vital because shales poorly outcropped and weathered

- analyses to be performed to address gas-in-place and fracturability

- analyses to be performed by service companies at low cost

- new analytical data to be entered into the database on regular basis

- specialised analyses may follow, as decided by steering committee

- database remains proprietary for 2 years after conclusion of project

- database content forms basis of MSc and PhD studies

- results must be published but with filter as to timing.

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