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    S Africa's Energy Sector Must Develop Gas Wisely: Minister


S Africa has a lot of gas that could be fed into the power generation sector, improving the economy.

by: William Powell

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S Africa's Energy Sector Must Develop Gas Wisely: Minister

South Africa needs to produce more of its gas and rely less on imports, the country's minister for mineral resources and energy, Gwede Mantashe, told parliament July 12. Announcing a budget of Rand 7.44bn ($528mn) for energy, he said the energy sector's economic output had declined in 1Q 2019.

As most of the country's supply of natural gas is imported from Mozambique, more economical options need to be explored, including acceleration of South Africa's own natural gas exploration activities, he said. Meantime, Mozambique will be engaged on the possibility of increasing and extending the supply of gas beyond 2023 and the importation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) via the Coega Industrial Development Zone will be implemented.

He said the government had to "utilise diverse energy resources in sustainable quantities at affordable prices, and mindful of environmental requirements, to support economic growth and development."

Among other measures being planned, the Gas Amendment Bill, he said, would make the most of available gas resources for power generation. These include the Karoo shale basin and the offshore Brulpadda field where Total announced a major gas find earlier this year. This could mitigate the impact of rising electricity prices on the cost of doing business, he said.

But gas is only part of the picture: the government is also working on the Integrated Resources Plan (IPR), which "considers a diversified energy mix that includes all forms of energy technology such as cleaner coal, gas, hydro, renewables and battery storage."

The IPR is being finalised at the National Economic Development and Labour Council and will be tabled before cabinet for approval in September, he said. "As a country, we must avoid the currently polarised debate on energy, pitted as coal against renewables. The debate should be about the effective use of all of the energy sources at our disposal, to achieve security of supply," he said.