South Africa’s government has decided in a surprise move that no new onshore or offshore oil and gas permits and rights will be awarded while it gets to work on a future licensing regime.

However, lawyers believe the ban on acreage awards could be the subject of a court appeal.

Mineral Resources Minister Samson Gwede Mantashe gazetted a notice on 28 June that, as of that date, stopped the Petroleum Agency of South Africa (PASA) accepting new applications for any reconnaissance permit, technical co-operation permit (TCP), exploration right (ER) or production right (PR).