South Africa’s gas industry undergone an increase in registered gas practitioners according to the South African Qualification and Certification Committee for Gas (SAQQC Gas) between March 2021 to March 2022.
This is testament to the increased demand for gas operated products amongst South African consumers and the demand for skilled installation. The increased demand has been attributed to South Africans seeking alternatives to using coal generated electricity appliances.
The incorporation of gas into South Africa’s energy mix
The use of LNG (Liquefied natural gas) operated appliances is a popular choice in domestic settings to fuel appliances, specifically stoves and heating solutions. However, it is set to become a greater part of the energy mix for the future of South Africa and much investment is going into developing this.
In July 2022, Transnet announced its participation in the Section 56 process for a request for proposal (RFP) to develop an LNG terminal at Richards Bay port on the coast of South Africa. The RFP was issued by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) who is seeking a terminal operator to design, develop, build, finance, operate, maintain, and transfer an LNG terminal in the Port of Richards Bay, South Africa.
The dedicated port for LNG shows South Africa’s ambitions to incorporate the use of LNG into their energy mix. While the country’s long-term goal is the transition towards the use of renewable and green energy, LNG is to be used as an alternative fuel source to help ease the transition. Gas will remain an integral part of South Africa’s energy mix with domestic use being the largest consumer.
South Africa’s energy sector – creating foreign investment opportunities
In addition to the increased use of LNG, there are other gases that also have energy applications.
Recently, helium was discovered in Virginia in South African’s inland province Free State. The Virginia Gas Project is the only onshore petroleum production plant in South Africa. It’s been estimated that the plant’s helium reserve is as large as 9.74 billion cubic metres, more extensive than the known reserves of the entire United States.
This is a significant find as helium is considered highly valuable for its use in medical scanners, space travel, and superconductors. Helium’s unique properties make it an essential component in manufacturing fibre-optic cables, microchips, and other electronic equipment. It is also used to inflate car airbags and in high concentrations in deep-sea diving tanks.
As a foreign investor looking for opportunities in Africa, it is no secret that South Africa is undergoing numerous developments around gas. An opportunity and an enabler for employment, from fixed-term contracts around the construction phase of infrastructure, pipelines, ports and terminals to long-term maintenance and operations. The demand for gas operated appliances has also see an increased demand amongst households.