Tanzania is laying a 500km pipeline and constructing infrastructure to generate electricity from gas in a Tsh1.8 trillion ($1.225 billion) project that is expected to help the country meet all its power needs.
On Thursday, President Jakaya Kikwete launched the construction of Mnazi Bay and Songosongo Natural Gas processing plant and a transportation pipeline. He directed Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) to start building the power processing plants.
President Kikwete was the Minister of Energy and Minerals when the generation of electricity from gas began in the country.
As he inaugurated Tanzania’s most expensive project ever, the President said the country would take full advantage of its resources, including coal, uranium, solar and wind, to generate electricity.
The project by China National Petroleum Corporation, and which is being financed through a loan from China’s Exim Bank, is expected to generate 990 megawatts when it is completed in 2014.
Minister for Energy and Minerals Sospeter Muhongo said the electricity will be generated using four generators — two with a capacity to generate 300MW each, and two to generate 150MW and 240MW respectively.
By 2015, the plant will be generating 2,785MW “which will not be very far from the target of 3000MW. This milestone achievement translates into the end of power shortages, and instead the country will become an exporter of electricity,” said Mr Muhongo.
The large diameter of the pipeline is expected to increase the transportation capacity of natural gas for power generation as well as industry and domestic use.
The project involves the construction of a 24-36 inch diameter pipeline from Mnazi bay in Mtwara, connected at Somanga Fungo with SongoSongo gas field in Lindi region, and then on to Dar es Salaam.
A 24-inch pipeline will then be constructed from Mnazi Bay to Somanga, and the existing 16-inch pipeline between Somanga and Dar es Salaam expanded to 36 inches. It will have the capacity to transport 210 million cubic feet of gas a day, up from the current 105 million cubic feet. The existing 16-inch natural gas pipeline from SongoSongo to Dar es Salaam — owned by private investors — has been facing capacity constraints amid growing demand for gas and energy.
At the launch, a gas expert told The East African that it would be economical to scale down on using gas to generate electricity “once our hydro power stations stabilise, and increase the use of gas for other economic activities because it (hydro) is still the cheapest energy option, and only expensive during installation.”
President Kikwete said, “In Singida region it has been discovered that winds there are faster than anywhere in the world, thus we are also developing this resource to give us 300MW of electricity,” he said, adding that the country will also use the natural gas to make plastics, fertiliser and other products.
Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania Lu Youqing said the funding provided to Tanzania was the biggest single loan disbursed by them to an individual country for an infrastructure project.
“The company to implement the project isn’t new to such ventures as it has the requisite experience, and I am confident completion of the 500km line and the infrastructure at Kinyerezi will be done within the 18 months of the project schedule,” he said.
Last month, Tanzanian Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda said the country would take advantage of the recent offer by China to provide a $20 billion credit line to African countries to assist them in developing infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing and medium-size enterprises.