University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE) will host the Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Energy (PCE) at a public hearing on the Transformation of the Gas Industry. The event, held on 30 January at UJ’s Auckland Park Bunting Road Campus’ School of Tourism and Hospitality, will be headed by PCE Chair, Honourable Sisa James Njikelana.
Presentations and discussion will include more than 80 individuals from the public, private and corporate sector. The event will also be attended by representatives from the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, SA Oil and Gas Association, Dynamic Energy, Piped-Gas and Petroleum Pipeline industries, higher education sector and environmental groups.
The public hearing forms part of PCE’s national imperative to gauge public perception and establish strategic partnerships, to transform the gas industry, in support of the National Infrastructure Plan. One of the foci remains on fostering socio-economic growth and development of solutions to address the escalating tariffs, demand and under supply of electrification.
FEBE Executive Dean, Professor Saurabh Sinha said: “As an institution of higher learning and as engineers and engineering technologists, our academics support critical rigorous debate and discourse that is aimed at positively re-engineering the future of South Africa and the continent. In light of the recent release of the proposed technical fracking regulations on petroleum exploration and exploitation, the hearing is likely to feature discussion on taxation, legislation, regulation, research, policy and infrastructure development, investment, health, safety and preservation of biodiversity. The engagement with the PCE serves to bridge the gap between engineering and policies affecting engineering.”
Sinha said: “It is imperative that a national energy needs analysis is undertaken to determine South Africa’s trajectory towards sourcing alternative energy, green energy and gas as part of the country’s energy mix. The pervading threat of price hikes with Eskom’s future capital expansion projects puts into perspective the need for a multipronged intervention. However, it is paramount that greater research is undertaken to determine the pros and cons of hydraulic fracturing of shale gas for the economy, societal and environmental health and safety.”
“In addition a greater understanding is required of the causal risks of seismic activity, ground water contamination, improper waste water disposal, water supply interruption and the relationship between international foreign investment and petroleum and gas industries. Based on this broad view, the Faculty’s contribution to the hearing will no doubt foster critical intellectual inquiry.”
The hearing forms part of the PCE’s tri-provincial public engagement with stakeholders of the gas industry in Gauteng and home solar systems in KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State. Contributions from industry role players and the public will enable further engagement on formulation of legislature, policy, infrastructural plans and establishing a regulatory framework for the exploration and exploitation in natural gas production.