Energy Minister Jeff Radebe on Wednesday called for all impediments to shale gas exploration to be removed as part of the government's response to the record high in the fuel price.
Radebe told a debate in the National Assembly on the fuel price, the main driving factor was the current policies of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and that there was little hope that the price of crude oil would drop.
"The price of crude oil will remain at current levels," Radebe said, adding that this posed a particular predicament for South Africa with its lack of reserves and reliance on imported cruel for 80% of its fuel needs.
South Africa therefore needs a multipronged approach to shield the economy from the impact of price hikes.
"The reality which we must internalise is that South Africa has no crude oil reserves and as a result we are heavily dependent on fuel imports for 80 percent of our country's fuel demands... Resolving this challenge is not a quick fix and it requires a multi-dimensional policy approach."
Radebe said South Africa would be less vulnerable to price hikes if the country were able to produce its own oil and gas.
Therefore it was imperative to "remove any regulatory impediments to exploration and linked to this is the need to unlock the potential for shale gas in our country".
He said exploration licencing should be "seemless" and he believed that in future the energy portfolio should be responsible for the legal and regulatory framework for oil and gas exploration.
The minister has been criticised for not taking acting to cushion South Africans from the impact of rising crude prices.
In the debate, the Democratic Alliance's spokesperson on energy Gavin Davis again appealed to Radebe to bring down the fuel levy and to resolve long-standing problems with "the corrupt, inefficient and useless Road Accident Fund", which receives R1.93 of the price of every litre of fuel sold.
Radebe countered that there were indeed plans to overhaul the fund and noted regarding the fuel levy, a commitment to contain future increases.