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South Africa Says Fracking Fluids Must Be Disclosed by Explorers

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Oct. 15 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa proposed regulations for hydraulic fracturing that would require disclosure of chemicals used and meet standards set by the American Petroleum Institute, a year after lifting a moratorium on the technique.

“Equipment used in hydraulic fracturing operations must be fit for purpose and must meet relevant API standards,” the government said today on the website of its national gazette. “Fluids and their status as hazardous/non-hazardous substances” must be submitted as part of an impact assessment, it said.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc and other explorers have applied for permits to explore the semi-desert Karoo region. South Africa, which in 2012 ended a ban on the practice known as fracking, estimates shale gas may generate 1 trillion rand ($100 billion) of sales in 30 years.

“The purpose of the draft regulations is to augment gaps identified in the current regulatory framework,” particularly in relation to fracking, Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu said in the gazette. The draft rules are open for public comment for 30 days.

Farmers and other opponents of fracking, which injects pressurized water, chemicals and sand underground to shatter rock and release natural gas, say the drilling technique risks contaminating ground water. While shale extraction helped the U.S. overtake Russia as the world’s biggest gas producer in 2009, countries including France have banned the practice.

“In order for fracking to go ahead it must be done in line with a proper charter with stringent control measures,” James Lorimer, a spokesman on mineral resources for South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance, said in an Oct. 10 statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Burkhardt in Johannesburg at pburkhardt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at jviljoen@bloomberg.net

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