Natural gas helps to ease energy shortage in Tanzania

Jul 23, 2004 02:00 AM

Tanzania began producing 115 MW of electric power from natural gas, in a move aimed at supplying the country with clean and efficient energy. The electricity is being produced at the Ubungo power station in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, as part of a $ 260 mm gas-to-electricity project involving a 225 km natural gas pipeline from Songo Songo Island in southern Tanzania.
Paul Kurnet, the vice-president of Globeleq East Africa (the project's major shareholder) and managing director of Songas, the company conducting the project, said the development would also benefit communities in the vicinity of the gas pipeline.

"The government also has a project, which is yet to start in earnest, that aims to provide water and electricity to the 40 villages along the pipeline," Kurnet told. "Some of the towns along the pipeline that will get electricity from the project include Somanga and Ikwiriri in southern Tanzania, and all other villages up to Ubungo in Dar es Salaam," he added.
"This milestone marks a huge step towards reducing our over-reliance on hydro [electric power], which has been so costly to the economy in recent years," Daniel Yona, Tanzania's minister for energy and minerals, said. He welcomed the implementation of the project, saying it was coming as the country faced a serious shortage of energy.
Kurnet said the power plant would initially supply 75 MW of gas-fired power, and the remaining 40 MW within the next three months.

Recurrent droughts have had severe effects on the country's power supply. Blackouts and power rationing resulting from low water levels in hydroelectric dams have forced the state-run Tanzania Electric Supply Company to rely on diesel-powered generators. Two-thirds, or 381 MW, of Tanzania's installed capacity is hydropowered.
Less than 10 % of Tanzania’s population has access to electricity, with average per capita power consumption being 0.023 MW. The vast majority of the population uses firewood for energy, a situation that endangers the country's forests.

Source: IRIN
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