Inside shot of
Ruacana power plant,
which currently provides
most of Namibia’s power
 
Cape Town, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 01 December 2010 – Namibia’s electricity regulator said it wants Gazprom OAO and Tullow Oil plc to fast-track plans to build a new 800-megawatt power plant that will run off gas from the offshore Kudu field in Namibia.

“We are going to have problems with electricity shortages by 2013, when power imports from Zimbabwe, Zambia and the Democratic of Congo start petering out,” said Siseho Simasiku, CEO of Namibia’s Electricity Control Board, in an interview here. “Namibia would like a decision on the new plant to be taken yesterday,” he added.

Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned natural gas export monopoly, and Tullow, the U.K. explorer focusing on Africa, are working on development plans for the Kudu field with Namcor, Namibia’s state-owned oil company, and Japan’s Itochu Corporation. The field holds about 1 trillion cubic feet of gas resources.

In an interview in Cape Town earlier this month, Boris Ivanov, head of the Russian company’s global exploration and production unit Gazprom EP International BV, said an investment decision on the project would be taken within 12 months. Tullow vice president Tim O’Hanlon said that front-end engineering and design studies for the gas-field project would be done next year.

“Namcor currently has no money to contribute to the project,” said Simasiku. “We are looking to be carried.”

Namibia generates most of its power from the Ruacana hydropower plant and the coal-fired Paratus and Von Eck power stations.

If the new gas-fired plant goes ahead it will probably be built near the southern coastal town of Oranjemund and cost about US$700 million (R4.9 billion), while about US$500 million (R3.5 billion) more will be needed for related infrastructure, according to Simasiku. “Namibia will be able to utilise a maximum of 500MW of the plant’s output, while the balance can be exported to South Africa,” he said.