African Development Bank (AfDB) sees shale gas as a viable energy option for the continent and if developed, could lead to lower gas prices, increased consumption of natural gas, reduced greenhouse gas emissions from power generation and substantial economic benefits to producer countries.
A report titled, Shale Gas and its Implications for Africa and the African Development Bank, examines both the positive and cautionary lessons that Africa can learn from the recent explosion of shale gas production in the United States.
“The African Development Bank is encouraged by the study’s findings in terms of the economic promise that new shale gas extraction techniques could hold for the region. At the same time, we cannot stress enough how important it is that production is accompanied by good environmental planning and management,” said Kurt Lonsway, AfDB manager of environment and climate change in the Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department.
The countries with potential for shale gas are Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania, South Africa and the Western Sahara.
However, the authors of the report also emphasise that the development and production of shale gas can present substantial environmental challenges. These include the large amounts of water required for extraction, water contamination, increased seismic activity and the venting and flaring of associated gas.
Governments and the public must consider the most advantageous way to proceed before embarking on the full development of the resource, the report says.
The report says that AfDB should play the role of an “honest broker” and work to ensure that governments with possible shale reserves are well informed and have access to reliable information on possible environmental consequences.
Information from Natural Gas Asia was used in this report.