Govt plans to increase natural gas usage

The government has charged oil marketers to open two natural gas stations for every five fuel posts they apply to increase natural gas use and save on import costs.

Tanzania has over 57 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of commercially viable natural gas reserves, which the government believes could put the economy on the right trajectory if put to effective use.

Last year, the country spent an estimated $1.253 billion (about Tsh2.9 trillion) on fuel importation. But, with emphasis on converting more vehicles from fuel to natural gas consumption, part of the money could be saved.

The move will also cushion the economy against shocks resulting from volatilities in global fuel prices.

Speaking at the launch of the Scania lorry compressed natural gas (CNG) in the commercial city, Energy Minister, Dr. Medard Kalemani, pointed out that the government was determined to see more gas filling stations opened in order to attract motorists to the new development.

“We want for every five petrol stations opened from now on, at least one or two should be gas filling stations, and we will do a follow-up on this to stimulate economic growth and facilitate environmental protection,” Dr. Kalemani said

He pointed out that even as they take a keen look at the laws governing it, “for now this is the move we are going with, and have already instructed our experts to ensure that by next year there are more gas stations around.”

On the same event, Environment minister, Suleiman Jafo ordered the Director of the National Environmental Management Council (NEMC) to ensure that, from July, 2021, no petrol station will be built without a special post for gas filling.

He shared that one of the conditions that would enable a petrol station owner to obtain an environmental impact assessment certificate is a designated area for installed gas filling stations.

“In the environmental impact assessment certificate applications that I will be signing from July, one of the requirements should the applicant allocate an area for gas,” said Jafo.

In 2020, the East African country had saved up to $15.6 billion (about Tsh36 trillion) in energy costs by switching to natural gas as a source of energy from July 2004 to September 2020, shows Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC).

TPDC indicates that the country saved $13.21 billion (Tsh30.5 trillion) in power generation, and $2.38 billion (Tsh5.5 trillion) in industries that opted for natural gas as a source of energy.

Dr Kalemani said cost-effective natural gas was currently being utilised in some 3,000 households in Dar es Salaam, Mtwara and Lindi regions.

He also said the system has been installed in more than 700 vehicles and about 50 factories. More than 70 per cent of the natural gas was being used to facilitate the electricity supply in the country.

However, he explained that the use was still very low in that current consumption nationwide has not even reached at least one trillion of the total discovery.

“We are now obliged to get many people to venture into the use of natural gas, to begin with government officials.”

Dr. Kalemani said the government through its experts continues to build gas filling stations to ensure that there is easy access to the product without any hassle for those who will change their vehicle system to use gas instead of diesel.

He urged TPDC and other stakeholders to cut the cost of converting the system from the current price of between Tsh1 million and Tsh1.5 million to attract more car users.

From 2022, gas stations would have been set up in every city, beginning with Dodoma, Mbeya, Mwanza, Tanga and Arusha – with some small stations located along highways across the country.