Cape Town - A new partnership between the Offshore Petroleum Association of South Africa and the department of science and technology which will look at offshore oil and gas exploration, is estimated to contribute more than R20bn to South Africa’s GDP over five years.
This is according to the minister of science and technology Naledi Pandor, who also signed a memorandum with the Offshore Petroleum Association of South Africa recently. Pandor said that it is the government's priority – taking into account the current global economic crisis – to promote better cooperation between business and government. "Business and government need to work together to increase South Africa's gross expenditure on research and development from the current 0.7% of GDP to 1.5% by 2019.
“The South African coastal and marine environment is one of our most important assets. Currently South Africa is not really deriving much from the ocean’s economy and this is why we want to build a viable gas industry and unlock our country’s vast marine resources.
"Through the South African Marine Research and Exploration Forum (Samref), we have gathered a lot of experts together to look at this. Last year President Barack Obama increased their research and development budget to 9% and that it is why it is our strategy to increase business investment in research and development,” she said.
Sean Lunn, chairperson of the Offshore Petroleum Association of South Africa, said that the oil and gas industry in South Africa is in its infancy. “The research will also help us to look at future energy supply for the country. And we will be able to add tangible value to South Africa's marine infrastructure, protection services and ocean governance,” he said.
The establishment of Samref will facilitate new collaborative offshore studies that will increase South Africa's state of knowledge of the offshore marine environment, the benefits of renewable energy, marine biodiversity and ecology, climate change and ecosystem functioning, and it will go some way towards mitigating the policy conflict between developing the oil and gas sector and the development of a low-carbon economy.
The initiative forms part of Operation Phakisa B3 which looks at broader research opportunities presented by offshore oil and gas exploration. The four critical focus areas of Operation Phakisa are marine transport and manufacturing, offshore oil and gas exploration, aquaculture, and marine protection services and governance.
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