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South Africa OKs fracking for natural gas

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Keith Srakocic/AP/File

(Read caption) In this June 2012 file photo, a crew works on a gas drilling rig at a well site for shale based natural gas in Zelienople, Pa. The US Energy Information Administration’s initial estimates are that there may be 485 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in South Africa's Karoo Basin, accessible through fracking.

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In many countries, the contentious issue of using hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,”  to develop otherwise unexploitable natural gas reserves has led to policy debates of prosperity versus potential environmental damage.

For countries faced with massive hydrocarbon import bills the issue is particularly acute, and many countries are keeping their fingers crossed about the practice. For South Africa, a net importer of energy with about 90 percent of its power supply being coal-based, any and all alternatives are under consideration.

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