Is natural gas a boon or a bane, pray?

Thursday January 13 2022
Gas pic

A gas facility in Dar es Salaam. PHOTO|FILE

By Karl Lyimo

On January 4, 2022, I read an APO Group press release titled ‘The European Union’s landmark proposal to label natural gas as ‘Green Energy’ is good for Africa...’

On January 6, 2022, I read a news report in The Citizen (Tanzania) titled ‘Let locals own 2.5pc share in LNG project.’

‘This is good news, indeed…” I said to myself, believing that natural gas (natgas) – and, by extension, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) – is a blessing: a boon, not a bane…

‘LNG’ is natural gas that has been cooled to a liquid state for shipping and storage. The volume of natural gas in its liquid state is about 600 times smaller than its volume in its gaseous state in a natural gas pipeline.

Tanzania has about 57 trillion cubic feet of natgas deposits, and the government contemplated a Sh70trn liquefied natural gas plant in Lindi Region about five years ago.

But, negotiations for a Host Government Agreement (HGA) with potential investors stalled in 2017 for “technical reasons” that are as clear as roiled mud.

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‘A Host Government Agreement’ is one between a foreign investor and a local or host government governing the rights and obligations of the foreign investor and the host government with respect to the development, construction and operation of a project by the foreign investor.

The HGA negotiations resumed in earnest on November 8, 2021 – and, hopefully, they will end on a happy note, in terms of fair and just returns for the owners of the resource (Tanzanians) and also for their investment partners.

Regarding the APO press release, at issue here is whether or not natgas is “a clean fuel,” a term which commonly refers to liquefied petroleum gas, a by-product of natural gas processing and oil refining efforts, liquefied under pressure, and used as fuel.

Apparently, the US doesn’t recognize natgas as a clean fuel...! Or do they...?

Now, the European Union (EU) has proposed to categorise it as a ‘green energy’: the type that’s generated from natural, usually renewable sources – such as sunlight/solar, wind, water/hydro and geothermal heat.

“The demonisation of Africa’s gas industry must stop... It is important that the oil-and-gas industry focuses its investment on further reducing carbon emissions in the gas value chain,” says Mr. N J Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the Johannesburg-based African Energy Chamber (AEC).

“Sustainable development and making energy poverty history will require Africa to (add) gas in its energy mix – thus giving us (Africa) a fighting chance to reduce the continent’s carbon footprint, even when we are still under four percent of global emissions,” he says.

A ‘carbon footprint’ is the total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) caused by an individual, event, organisation, service, place or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).

‘Global greenhouse gas emissions’ are known to impact the amount of ozone in the atmosphere.

Trapped gases are partly responsible for increasing temperatures. It is theorised that climate change partly results from damage to the ozone layer, which protects the Earth from the Sun’s (solar) radiation, etc.

According to Mr. Ayuk, AEC hails the EU “proposal to categorise natgas as a ‘green energy’ source.

Fair enough, I say in My Book of Things. So, lets side with the EU on thins – and throw the US out on its ear, proverbially-speaking!

Yes… If we can get more and more Tanzanians to replace firewood and wood charcoal with cooking gas, we could may be further reduce unwanted global emissions – and teach US ex-President Donald Tramp (sorry: Trump) a lesson or two on environmental protection.