After a year of study and analysis, Royal Dutch Shell Plc has applied for permits that will enable the company to further explore South Africa’s Karoo Basin, according to a report by South Africa’s Sunday Times.

In Dec. 2009, Shell was awarded a one-year “technical cooperation permit” (TCP) by the country’s regulator, Petroleum Agency SA, to exclusively explore an 185,000 square-kilometer block in the basin.

Though Shell did not release any information about its findings, its re-application indicates that the company found something it wants to pursue. Shell has now honed in its focus on three contiguous blocks that cover approximately 90,000 square kilometers in central South Africa.

Shell is not the only company that has expressed interest in the Karoo Basin. Currently, Chesapeake Energy Corp., Statoil and Sasol have also had an eye on the prospect.

Though Petroleum Agency SA is still reviewing applications, Shell is at work putting together an environmental management plan as well as public consultations. There is no information on when the application review process will be completed.