Upstream Oil & Gas in South Africa

Oil & Gas Statistics

At present, South Africa does not have significant proven oil and gas reserves and produces oil and gas from coal and imported crude oil. The relative under-utilisation of gas is as a result of the abundant coal resources in the country that allowed South Africa to produce petroleum and by-products as well as electricity cheaply from coal. However, declining coal resources and the relative cost of coal-produced electricity and petroleum in financial and environmental terms will see South Africa diversify its energy mix, a process that is already under way.

Should offshore exploration and onshore shale gas exploration prove to be successful, South Africa will have a localised supply of oil and gas to anable and promote the diversification of the country's energy mix.

Coventional Oil & Gas

South Africa - Conventional Oil & Gas Statistics (2014)
South Africa Production / Reserves Share of World
Oil Production (barrels per day) 191 000 0.22%
Proven Oil Reserves (million barrels) 15 0.001%
Gas Production (cubic metres per year) 970 000 000 0.03%
Proven Gas Reserves (cubic metres) 27 160 000 0.00001%

Unconventional Gas

South Africa has significant potential for unvonventional gas discovery in the form of Coal Bed Methane and Shale Gas, for which it is ranked 8th and 12th in the world.

South Africa - Unconventional Gas Statistics (2014)
South Africa Unit No. Global Ranking
Coal Bed Methane Resources* TCF 20-30 12
Shale Gas Technically Recoverable Resources** TCF 390 8
Shale Gas Potential Reserves*** TCF 30  
  • TCF = Trillion Cubic Feet
  • * Energy Tribune and other sources
  • ** US Energy Information Agency and other sources
  • *** Petroleum Agency of South Africa

Offshore Exploration

Offshore exploration off South Africa's cost was previously limited primarily by the depth of the potential resources and secondly by the ocean currents. Recent improvements in exploration technology, coupled with the need for South Africa to diversify its energy mix has seen increased interest in exploration activity off South Africa's coast, with 20 exploration licences issued.


Coal bed methane exploration interest in South Africa continues to grow with 25 exploration rights awarded to date, and some companies applying for production rights.

Five Technical Cooperation Permits have been issued for Shale Gas exploration. South Africa is ranked between fourth and eighth for shale gas exploration potential with ~390 tcf of recoverable resource. The Petroleum Agency of South Africa estimates the recoverable resource to be ~30 tcf. In terms of legislation, technical regulations were released for comment by the South African government in October 2013.

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