South Africa Plans to Pass Oil-Law Changes Before May Election

South African legislators said they plan to adopt changes to mining and oil laws before Parliament adjourns ahead of May 7 elections, overriding industry concern that the measures are ill-considered and will deter investment.

Proposed changes to the 2002 Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act include giving the state the right to a free 20 percent stake in all new energy ventures as well as compelling some producers to sell part of their output to local processors. Companies including Anglo American Plc and BHP Billiton Ltd. have said the measures will hurt business and may violate the constitution and international trade obligations.

“We can finish this so the act can continue to be implemented,” Faith Bikani, the acting chairwoman of Parliament’s mineral resources committee, said in Cape Town today after committee deliberations on the law. “We can’t leave it in limbo. We want it done now.”

The National Assembly is set to vote on the law before adjourning on March 13, and it will be referred to the National Council of Provinces. The NCOP should have enough time to hold hearings and vote on the law before it goes on recess ahead of the election, said Bikani, who is a member of the ruling African National Congress that controls almost two-thirds of the seats in Parliament.

On Feb. 18, Bikani said the law may have to be passed by the next legislature, because the committee didn’t have sufficient time to give it due consideration. Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu had previously said the law would be passed under the current administration.

Bikani said the committee ran out of time to consider whether provisions covering oil and gas could be split and incorporated into a new law more suited to the energy industry’s state of development. That option could be revived at a later stage, she said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Cohen in Cape Town at mcohen21@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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