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Successful geology excursion to the Karoo basin, South Africa

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For four days in March a group of 12 Bayerngas Norge employees travelled a distance of about 1200 km in the East Cape province in South Africa, exploring the geology of the eastern Karoo Basin.

The group was a good mix of people from different disciplines, (geology, geophysics and reservoir engineering) with varying background and experience. This provided a good basis for discussions on the geological stops on route, and was a great way of building stronger bonds between the disciplines.

The excursion was held by Sverre Planke from ‘Volcanic Basin Petroleum Research’ who has extensive knowledge of the geology in the area, especially the volcanic rocks in the basin. In addition Prof. J.S. Marsh from the Rhodes University in Grahamstown and two students were field guides and their knowledge of both the geology and the South African community enriched our experience.
The geological localities consisted of outcrops of rocks from the Karoo Supergroup, ranging in age from 350 to 250 Million years (pre Gondwana break-up), representing a variety of sedimentological environments from fully marine to continental. Within this sedimentological record the different volcanic rock facies, related to the Gondwana super continent break-up, are found.

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Since the 21st Round licensing awards, Bayerngas has been partner in the frontier license PL 596 in the Møre Basin. Here, the presence of basalt and related volcanic facies are some of the main challenges. Therefore, it was a fantastic opportunity to have a closer look at a similar system in full scale, learning to appreciate the dimensions of such a system and the processes related to it.

Currently, heated discussions on shale gas and fracking are taking place in the Eastern Cape region, as investigations are under way to see if a hot shale unit in the Ecca Group (Karoo Supergroup) can be exploited. Today, coal (also of the Karoo Supergroup) from the mines in the northeastern part of South Africa is the country’s main energy source and the supply is expected to be exhausted in the next century.

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Here are some relevant links:

Volcanic Basin Petroleum Research
Rhodes University Geology Department
Eastern Cape information
Addo Elephant Park
a google search with "shale gas karoo" will provide numerous links, both pro and con, to the fracking discussion...
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