Government says the first phase of a 2 000-metric tonne liquefied petroleum gas facility (LPG) will be commissioned in Ruwa next year.
Consumers have shifted to liquefied gas since the southern African country was hit by a severe energy crisis in the last few years.
Gloria Magombo, permanent secretary in the Energy and Power Development ministry, said the project was expected to ease the energy crisis.
“The project is being done in phases, with the first phase of 500mt expected to be commissioned by the first quarter of 2023 at an estimated cost of US$10,5 million,” Magombo said in emailed responses to NewsDay Business.
“This facility will provide additional storage that will be adequate to supply the local market’s requirements and create buffer stocks to avoid intermittent price shocks as well as shortages.”
She said the Energy and Power Development ministry was carrying out the project through the National Oil Infrastructure Company.
“The LPG storage and handling project was initiated to handle strategic reserves to ensure security of supply of LPG and stabilise prices on the market,” she said.
Liquified petroleum gas consumption rocketed 833% in the past decade as Zimbabwean households, battling frustrating power blackouts, turned to alternative energy to power homes.
Magombo said Zimbabwe guzzled 56 million kg of LPG last year, compared to six million kg in 2012.
The rise was mostly driven by robust demand from households battling intermittent power blackouts as national power utility Zesa Holdings struggles to match consumer demand.
The State-controlled electricity producer’s multi-billion-dollar power facilities have been overwhelmed after prolonged undercapitalisation, placing the country’s economic growth targets under threat.
Zesa says the rolling blackouts currently affecting the economy would be addressed this year when a US$1,5 billion upgrade project at Hwange Thermal Power station is completed.
Zimbabwe’s gas fields have not yet been fully developed, officials say they present an investment opportunity which, if utilised will help the country ride out the power shortage.
Official estimates indicate that the country could be sitting on 765 billion cubic metres of measured coal-bed methane gas, which dwarfs the total measured resources in the rest of the Southern African Development Community.
The resource was discovered in the Lupane area, where a number of test wells have been drilled.
Significant progress has also been made in the hunt for oil and natural gas in Muzarabani, about 300km north-east of Harare, where Australian outfit, Invictus Energy, has been exploring since 2015.
The Muzarabani gas fields lie in close proximity to proven energy resources across the border with Mozambique, a factor that gives Zimbabwe hope that similar finds could be made this side of the border. – (Newsday)