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East Coast of Africa gas very pure, ‘ideal for world’s energy needs’

Sasol gas pipeline in Mozambique. Photo : Sasol

Sasol gas pipeline in Mozambique. Photo : Sasol

Published Oct 12, 2023


Unni Fijaer, vice-president and Tanzania country manager for Equinor, which is currently developing offshore natural gas resources in Tanzania, says that the beauty of gas derived from the East Coast of Africa is that it is extremely low on CO2 content.

This was an insight shared at a panel discussion on the role of African gas at the AOW Investing in African Energy event being held in Cape Town this week.

Fijaer said that East African gas has around one-third of the global average of carbon content, and is also extremely low in liquids.

“It is a really pure gas, which makes it ideal for meeting the world’s energy needs while minimising its carbon emission impacts,” added Fijaer

A recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) says that more than 5 000 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas resources have been discovered in Africa that have not yet been developed. If brought into production, these resources could provide an additional 90bcm of gas a year by 2030, while keeping the continent’s share of global carbon emissions to a mere 3.5%.

Fijaer said that currently there are two related global challenges, one of which is the impacts of climate change, which we have all experienced.

“But at the same time, there is a significant gap when it comes to access to energy. Gas offers a solution,” she said.

Fijaer said gas offered an opportunity for resource-driven African development. She drew a parallel with Norway, which became a highly developed nation on the back of oil discoveries off the country’s coast in 1969.

“Norway was a pretty poor country, but when oil and gas were discovered, the government ensured that revenues were channelled into the country’s development,” said Fijaer.

She further highlighted that African countries with gas reserves like Tanzania can embark on a similar development journey, as long as we ensure that energy projects are a win-win arrangement for both investors and the host nations.

Another gas development off Africa’s East Coast recently began production, with operator Eni projecting it might ultimately contribute the equivalent of 2% of Mozambique’s national GDP this year.

The resource, in the Rovuma Basin, is estimated to hold 2 400 billion cubic meters of gas.

Eni Rovuma Basin Technical Director Ivan Codognotto said that the Coral South Project in the Rovuma Basin is a landmark project for the industry, and firmly places Mozambique on to the global LNG stage.

“The project has come on stream within just five years. It is already generating benefits for the Mozambican economy, creating jobs, revenue, training and business growth,” said Codognotto.

Ombeni Sifue, the chairperson of the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation, said the country had a right to develop its resources to support the upliftment of its people.

“Africa’s resources have enriched a lot of people, but not Africans. It's time to use Africa’s resources for its own development, and to address energy poverty,” said Sifue.