Natural gas is a key driver of economic growth in Southern Africa

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Mlandzeni Boyce, CEO, ROMPCO

Gas is a key enabler for economic growth and social development in the region, as well as a cleaner alternative to other fossil fuels, says Mlandzeni Boyce, CEO of the Republic of Mozambique Pipeline Investments Company (ROMPCO). Natural gas has the potential to enhance energy security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and foster regional integration in Southern Africa.

It is an important bridge fuel between coal and renewable energy sources, emitting about half as much carbon dioxide per unit of energy as coal. However, the development of the natural gas market in the region faces several challenges, such as limited infrastructure, regulatory barriers, and price competitiveness.

A joint venture between the governments of South Africa and Mozambique, represented by iGas and CMG respectively and integrated energy and chemical company Sasol, ROMPCO was established to transport natural gas from Mozambique’s Pande and Temane gas fields for the economic development of the two countries and has a potential to grow the same effort to the entire region.

ROMPCO operates an 865 km pipeline linking gas-rich Mozambique to in Secunda operations in South Africa. The pipeline has been instrumental in supplying South Africa with energy, especially during times of power shortages and loadshedding. It also supplies gas to industrial customers and power plants in both countries, creating employment and stimulating growth.

A new era of regional cooperation on the back of intra-African gas trade commenced in June 2021 when iGas and CMG acquired a combined 30% equity interest in ROMPCO from Sasol. This increased their share to 40% each, with Sasol retaining 20%.

Although Boyce took on his current role in 2019, ROMPCO was officially established in 2000 when the governments of Mozambique and South Africa entered into a Cross Border Agreement to facilitate trade in natural gas between the two countries. “We had a vision from the outset,” says Boyce. This was based on constructing, owning, and operating the Mozambique-Secunda Pipeline (MSP) to transport natural gas from the central processing facility in Mozambique to gas markets in both countries.

The MSP has a capacity of 215 petajoules (PJ) a year. The gas network includes Loop Line 1, Loop Line 2, and the Komatipoort Compressor Station, that boosts the pressure of the natural gas transported from Temane via the MSP. The two 128-km-long Loop Lines were completed in an effort to increase in-country pipeline capacity to address the growing demand for natural gas in the region.

Boyce is responsible for the strategic direction, financial performance, and operational excellence of the company. He has a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Leicester and over 18 years’ experience in the energy sector.

He began his career at Sasol in 2004, where he held various positions in business development, project management, stakeholder relations and country management. Boyce has vast experience in gas sourcing, gas infrastructure development and executing gas strategies, serving as Senior Business Manager in Nigeria and Manager from 2013 to 2018.

As CEO of ROMPCO, Boyce’s main role is to ensure the safety, reliability, and sustainability of the MSP, a vital asset for both Mozambique and South Africa. He is also passionate about creating value for all ROMPCO stakeholders, from shareholders to customers, employees, communities, and regulators.

Boyce says ROMPCO is a key driver for both the Mozambican and South African gas market, boosting gas monetisation between the two countries. In line with this, he aims to expand both the customer base and gas network to meet the growing demand for reliable and cost-effective gas supply in the region.

“We are looking at other markets for gas as well as multiple tie-offs,” says Boyce, adding that ROMPCO has 40 to 45 petajoules (PJ) spare capacity at present. “To date we can move about 200 petajoules (PJ) between Ressano Garcia in Mozambique and Secunda in South Africa. If the market expands significantly through gas-to-power uptake and general industrial growth, we are in a position to install additional loop lines if need be. ROMPCO remains a strategic asset to push gas volumes into the market,” he concludes.

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