South Africa may reconsider a new oil and gas law to ensure that investors can be make profits while securing a place for the state in the sector, Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said on Tuesday. Parliament passed the law in March, giving the state a 20 percent free stake in new gas and oil exploration and production ventures and alarming operators such as Total and Exxon Mobil, which are looking to explore in South Africa.
“Having spent time listening to stakeholders … I am ready for any eventuality,” Ramatlhodi told parliament. “In the event the current bill is assented to in its form, I commit to rigorous and transparent engagement with stakeholders on draft regulations,” he said. The bill is before President Jacob Zuma who must give it his assent before it becomes law.
Ramatlhodi told reporters there was broad agreement on the 20 percent free-carry for the state and 10 percent for “black empowerment”, but the sticking point was on where to cap these. “Black empowerment” refers to state-mandated targets to lift black ownership in Africa’s most advanced economy, part of a government drive to rectify the racial imbalances of white apartheid rule. “We want to limit the amount that the state can actually take, even on an agreed price, so that you allow investors to get their investment returns back,” the minister said.