February 24, 2014 / 2:53 PM / 5 years ago

South Africa state pension fund keen to invest in local shale play

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s Public Investment Corporation (PIC) is keen to invest in a domestic shale gas industry once it gets underway, its chief investment officer said on Monday.

The intention to invest in shale gas by the PIC, which manages 1.4 trillion rand of South African public employee retirement funds, is the latest signal of the government’s commitment to developing a potential new supply of energy for Africa’s largest economy.

“Shale will be a game changer here and we will be the biggest investor,” Dan Matjila told Reuters on the sidelines of a listing event at the Johannesburg stock exchange.

“There is no doubt that we will want to participate in these shale projects,” he said.

Companies that have expressed an interest in shale exploration in South Africa include Royal Dutch Shell.

South Africa’s cabinet late last year proposed new regulations to govern exploration for shale gas after it lifted a moratorium in 2012 on the activity in its Karoo region, where fracking might tap what is believed to be some of the world’s biggest reserves of the energy source.

Fracking involves pumping pressurised water, chemicals and sand underground to release gas trapped in shale formations.

Matjila also said the PIC was “looking for partnerships in Ghana and Kenya” with oil exploration companies.

Another gas play on the PIC’s radar screen is massive discoveries off the shores of Tanzania and Mozambique.

The region is now a key prospect for the export of liquefied natural gas because of the size of recent discoveries, its location en route to Asia and its appeal to buyers trying to diversify away from big suppliers Qatar and Australia.

“Tanzania and Mozambique’s offshore gas industries look interesting, we are looking at them quite closely because we believe gas will change the economic structure of the region,” Matjila said.

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