South Africa's recoverable gas reserves from both onshore shale and offshore gas fields was seen at around 19.5 trillion cubic feet (TCF), a senior energy official said on Tuesday.
Ompi Aphane, deputy director general for energy policy, said it would take around a decade to significantly develop these gas resources, with exploration still to determine South Africa's true gas potential.
"It requires significant evaluation activity, significant drilling for us to be able to quantify the gas more definitively and to also assess the economic case for the recovery of this gas," Aphane told a gas conference in Cape Town.
Allowing for different estimates, Aphane said South Africa's recoverable gas resources were seen at around 9 tcf offshore through conventional drilling, 9 tcf in shale in the Karoo, a vast semi-desert wilderness stretching across the heart of South Africa, out of a potential 120 tcf resource and around 1.5 tcf from coal bed methane.
South Africa is aiming to procure 3,126 megawatts of power from gas in the period between 2019 and 2025 as it plans to diversify its energy mix away from an over-reliance on coal-fired power plants providing around 90 percent of the country's electricity needs.
Aphane said government was focused currently on a liquefied natural gas (LNG) to power tender, with a number of projects anticipated, providing the opportunity for more than one location.
"We want to use gas to contribute to our near-term power needs which are significant," Aphane said.
Africa's most developed economy is battling electricity shortages that has curbed economic growth and plunged millions of houses into regular darkness as power utility Eskom manages the power grid by blacking out certain sectors.