By Features Reporter
ANALYSIS (Mining Index) – FOUR years later after discovery of coal bed methane in Matebeleland North province, Zimbabwe still sits on this multi-billion dollar project, while the country continue to battle to supply power to its domestic users, largely bailed out by electricity imports from South Africa and Mozambique.
Coal-bed methane natural gas is found in coal beds, located in Dete, Gwayi, Lupane and Hwange with reserves estimated to be 95 percent methane, cleaner, environmentally friendlier and an alternative form of energy.
Zimbabwe is importing Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) or propane gas instead of tapping from its vast local methane reserves.
Zimbabwe needs to be pro-active in using its abundant natural resources in turning around its economic fortunes.
In May 2014, huge deposits of coal-bed methane gas were reported in Matabeleland North province, estimated to be over 23 billion cubic feet per square mile with Hwange and Lupane alone, projected to hold over 800 million cubic metres per square kilometre.
Geologists estimate reserves could run to over a trillion per cubic kilometre, signifying Zimbabwe’s potential to have some of the largest gas reserves in the world, together with countries like China, Russia and Canada.
From geological surveys conducted, Zimbabwe is believed to contain sufficient gas to supply the SADC region, further revealing that Zimbabwe’s gas reserves are projected to be more than reserves of all SADC countries combined.
With gas reserves estimated to be adequate for approximately 200 years, enough for more than 100 years of electricity generation and another 100 years for fuel, Zimbabwe should not be in this sorry state where a nation endowed with such an important resource keeps choking its foreign currency by allocating US$12 million per month on electricity imports.
Gas can be converted to electricity in which a gas well is estimated to produce at least two megawatts of electricity. Matebeleland North has capacity to hold for 4 000 gas wells, which will in the medium to long term, translates into 8000 megawatts of electricity feeding into the national electricity grid.
Hwange Power Station is currently producing 380MW, Munyati 17MW while Bulawayo is producing 22MW. Kariba Power Station is producing the bulk of electricity ranging between 732-1033MW.
Conversion of gas to liquid petrol and diesel will effectively reduce fuel import bill through adoption relevant technology. ENDS//