Amidst an unprecedented load shedding crisis, the Central Energy Fund is pushing ahead with Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe’s plan to build a ‘gas bridge’ to Mozambique, while Eskom calls for up to 6,000 megawatts of new gas-fired power to urgently be added to the grid.
The announcement, in March this year, that South Africa had secured a gas deal from Mozambique went largely unnoticed: “The only thing I can confirm is that discussions … between our Minister of Mineral Resources and Mozambique are quite advanced,” Deputy President David Mabuza told members of Parliament in March. “[But] I can safely say that we’ve reached an agreement.”
Related news: South Africa – the evaporating case for gas power
It is no secret that Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe had been making regular visits to Mozambique with the hopes of securing a gas deal.
Two years ago, Saliem Fakir, executive director of the African Climate Foundation, warned that Mantashe was quietly building a “gas bridge” to Mozambique, starting with the 2,000 megawatt (MW) risk mitigation programme that looked designed to favour gas.
“[T]he ‘invisible hand’ of Gwede Mantashe slowly opening the gas tap… [I]f you put the pieces together, it is hard not to conclude that a gas strategy is taking shape,” he said.
Six months later, as Fakir predicted, the bulk of the risk mitigation programme was awarded to Karpowership’s gas-fired ships.
Now, following unprecedented levels of Stage 6 load shedding and calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare an energy emergency, the “gas bridge” to Mozambique appears to be opening.
This is a small extract from a very in depth and well researched article written by investigative journalist, Susan Comrie from amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism.
Read more on this exclusive story from the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism HERE