DAR-ES-SALAAM, The switch to natural gas to generate electricity has started to yield savings for the country amounting to almost 1.4 trillion shillings (about 6.2 billion US dollars) over the last 13 years, taking into account only the production from Songosongo field, which is estimated to have 1.0 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves.

According to calculations by Pan Africa Energy Tanzania Limited, this amount was arrived at based on offsetting the use of liquid fuels such as heavy fuel oil (HFO). The amount saved in the last 13 years since gas was pumped from Songosongo is equal to almost half the 2017/18 national Budget of 32 trillion shillings.

Pan Africa Energy Tanzania (PAET) Deputy Managing Director Andrew Hanna said here Tuesday the savings were expected to increase as many industries had also started switching to natural gas. Some industries are now using gas to generate power (withdrawing diesels) to offset power fluctuations, Hanna said, adding that so farm some 40 industries had been connected to PAET's natural gas distribution network.

On top of that, the firm, through Songas, had used gas to produce clean, reliable, low-cost electricity. We were the first gas-to-power project in East Africa, becoming the driver for significant skills development in oil and gas in Tanzania, Hanna said.

Natural gas had allowed countless smaller businesses to develop and flourish in the country. In view of the demand, stakeholders are currently working on increasing natural industrial gas supplies, with demand rising fast.

Experts believe that once the Tanzania moves towards becoming a gas-powered economy, the savings were anticipated to reach some 2.2 trillion shillings annually.

Based on current discoveries alone, Tanzania is now firmly placed on the world energy map as a hot spot for the global energy industry. While the country is working out export opportunities, Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) says gas demand has doubled from 145 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscfd) last year to 300mmcfd to date.

TPDC acting Managing Director Kapuulya Musomba said at the moment, gas supply was ahead of demand but working on meeting the need as per the industrialisation drive. The supply at the moment is good. We can pump 300million cubic foot a day from Mnazi Bay and Songo Songo. The supply will be boosted further when gas from another field at Nturya in Mtwara comes in, he added,

The TPDC, tasked with distribution of gas, is carrying out a study to map out the gas requirements across the country, specially in the Coast Region, and which is to be ready this fiscal year.

The study will determine the industrial demand and open gates for how much to be increasing to meet supply and sourcing funds to upgrade pumping facilities, Musomba said.