POWER SUPPLY: Gas Is On Its Way
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Forest Exploration International and their partners plan to spend $3 to $4 billion dollars over the next 20 years to develop the Ibhubesi gas field off the West Coast.
Mr John Langhus, Commercial Director of Forest Exploration, told a meeting of the Chamber’s Industrial Forum that the first gas could be piped ashore in 2012 and would most likely be used to generate electricity.
He said the initial drilling programme had been highly successful, producing a gas well that tested better than any other well drilled off the South African coast. The second phase of the $100m drilling programme had been less successful leading to a downward revision of the initial forecast of a 13 Trillion cubic foot resource.
However he told the Chamber that Ibhubesi was a big field with a lot of gas and there were no doubts about its viability. In all Forest oil planned to drill 99 wells in four phases.
Mr Langhus said it was planned to draw 100 million cubic feet (MMcf) of gas per day and that this was expected to rise to about 225 MMcf. The initial supply would be enough to power a 700MW combined cycle gas turbine to supply base load electricity or 400MW of peaking power from an open cycle gas turbine.
These power stations would be able to compete with coal-fired power stations but would be much cleaner and they could be constructed in a much shorter time.
At present 1 800 MW of power is generated by Koeberg with the rest of the Western Cape’s electricity imported from the north. The gas power station would improve energy security in the Western Cape and open the way to supply gas to industry. This, in turn, would reduce the load on the existing Eskom grid.
Forest Exploration was expecting formal permission to start producing gas before the end of June.
Mr Langhus stressed that the gas was a South African resource and its exploitation should improve the country’s balance of payments.
He held out hopes of further discoveries, pointing out that the West Coast was an under-explored area and in terms of oil exploration it was nearly “virgin territory” and there was not much of that left in the world.
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