Natural gas vital for S Africa’s energy security

27th July 2018 By: Melissa Zisengwe - Creamer Media Reporter

Natural gas vital for  S Africa’s energy security

PIPPA BROWN Energy Council Africa director speaking at the Energy Council event in May

The energy sector’s inclusive forum for engagement, the Energy Council, believes that South Africa’s gas-to-power programme is vital to ensuring energy security for the country.

Consequently, the Energy Council regularly engages with the Department of Energy (DoE) to see how the council can assist with ensuring that momentum in the programme is maintained.

The Energy Council is the world’s leading deal-initiation and global connectivity platform for direct engagement among investors, asset owners, project developers and government stakeholders, says Energy Council Africa director Pippa Brown. The council has offices globally, including its second- biggest one, in Cape Town.

“Our global outreach and local positioning puts us in a unique position to assist in the growth of natural gas as an energy source in South Africa, as we can connect international organisations investing in gas with government officials and those looking to develop projects in South Africa.”

Brown, however, stresses that the council also advocates impartiality of energy source, with a mandate to support broader efforts to develop a lower carbon future.

At the council’s Gas-to-Power Africa Congress – held in May, in Cape Town –during which participants discussed the outlook for natural gas and liquefied natural gas in Africa in 2018, “the optimism and energy in the room were fuelled by the senior representation of government officials and policymakers working in the energy sector in Africa, and most notably by the address from Energy Minister Jeff Radebe”, she declares.

She highlights that, after a period of reduced investor confidence, owing to energy policy uncertainty in South Africa, the DoE’s renewed direction and drive were encouraging for participants. “Everyone is now waiting for the release of South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan (due mid-August) and the subsequent updates to South Africa’s gas-to-power programme.”

Further, Brown points out that the positive words from government officials from, for example, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya, show an increased drive for investment in energy on the continent.

The council works with all stakeholders in the gas and power value chains, including governments; regulators; upstream explorers and producers; transport; offtakers; developers; utilities; engineering, procurement and construction companies; financiers; and investors worldwide. It is also planning for its next Gas-to-Power Africa Congress which will take place in Paris in early June in 2019.

Brown avers that gas has cemented its reputation internationally as the bridging fuel to drive the energy transition to a lower-carbon future of reduced greenhouse-gas emissions in the years that it will take renewable energies to build sufficient power output and storage. “Gas can provide a reliable and consistent source of power for the grid to meet South Africa’s energy demand requirements.”

This will enable the country to focus on the infrastructure required to further develop the grid and provide electricity for those who do not have access. Imported gas will also contribute to the further development of the industrial and petrochemicals sectors in South Africa, leading to further job creation and investment, she explains.

She says there are plenty of opportunities for regional collaboration, especially with the estimated 100-trillion cubic feet of gas reserves off the shore of Mozambique.

South Africa is developing a regional gas master plan for the Southern African Development Community (SADC), with a report outlining the SADC’s approach to the development of regional gas resources will be finalised next month.

“A regional gas market will require significant investment in regional gas infrastructure and market development, and the Energy Council is ready to assist in making this a reality,” concludes Brown.