HomeBusiness DigestGas emerges as potential answer to Zim’s energy crisis

Gas emerges as potential answer to Zim’s energy crisis

As Mozambique’s “world-class” gas resources are developed and coal bed methane (CBM) increasingly offers potential, Zimbabwe could seemingly leverage gas opportunities to meet its rising energy demands.


Mozambique’s gas finds are expected to fuel the southern region of Africa, where many countries are battling to meet ever-increasing energy demands.

Mozambique, which currently used 13 000 GWh of its 17 000 GWh electricity output – generated mostly from hydropower – was already a net exporter, particularly to South Africa.

And, despite Zimbabwe’s 10,25-billion-tonne coal potential, the Southern African country could exploit its gas reserves and develop a gas-to-liquid (GTL) plant, using gas as an alternative to coal, John Hollaway and Associates consultant John Hollaway said on Friday.

Speaking at the second Zimbabwe Energy Future conference, in Johannesburg, he said many coal projects had faltered on the back of poor quality coal, with only the Hwange region boasting about 2,1-billion tonnes of coking coal potential.

A move to build a US$5-billon 60 000 bl/d GTL plant could support a country using 30 000 bbl/d of mostly imported liquid fuels and would be about 60% cheaper than the development of a coal-to-liquid (CTL) plant.

But, Cobramar head Michel Thuysbaert believed that about 600 000 t of unexportable coal could be monetised and beneficiated through the establishment of a Phase-1 Fischer-Tropsch CTL plant in Zimbabwe.

Outlining a proposed plant, he said the small-scale Phase 1 plant, with a 1 350 bl/d capacity, aimed to kick-start the country’s ambitions of reversing petroleum importation to eventually become a petroleum exporter.

The terms of reference for a prefeasibility study were currently being prepared and were expected to be completed this year, while Cobramar planned to progress a bankable feasibility study in 2015.

Production at the US$3-billion to US$3,5-billion Phase 1 plant would start in 2018/19, with output eventually ramping up to 30 000 bbl/d.

Thuysbaert said a number of discussions were under way for a potential public–private partnership, which was essential for the project’s success.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe-based coal producer Hwange Colliery mining planning and business manager Oliver Maponga noted that Zimbabwe could leverage its more than 800-million cubic metres of undeveloped CBM across the Hwange and Lupane regions.

The conservative estimations could power Zimbabwe, which imported some of its power requirements from its neighbours the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and South Africa.

Zimbabwe’s current 2 200 MW demand, which surpassed its capacity of less than 1 900 MW, could be met with the addition of a 3 000 MW capacity through the development of US$3,4-billion in energy projects.

These included Hwange 7 and 8 coal, Lupane gas, Kariba south extension hydropower, Sengwa coal and Batoka hydropower.

But, Maponga said, judging from the gas estimations of a small portion alone, the 40 000 square kms mid-Zambezi basin could be home to “huge” deposits of gas that could contribute significantly to the country’s energy needs.

He believed that CBM, still in its infancy in Zimbabwe, was an “up and coming” industry.

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