New efforts to resuscitate coal bed methane exploration
THERE are renewed efforts to resuscitate exploration of coal bed methane in the Matabeleland North Province to prove whether the resource is commercially viable.
Officials within Ministries of Energy and Power Development and Mines and Mining Development confirmed some meetings have been held, centred on how the project could be revived. A steering committee would be formed to spearhead the project.
Lupane Gas, a unit of the Industrial Development Corporation was the project promoter, but failed to raise the $12 million required to prove whether the resource is commercially viable.
“It is the project the Government would want to see progressing,” said one official.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa said last week the exploration of the coal bed methane had been stopped, but could not provide the reasons.
As part of its product diversification, Hwange Colliery Company Ltd last year invited bids for companies interested in partnering the coal mine in explore coal bed methane in Lubimbi area.
Another company, China Sunlight Energy is also looking at investing in gas wells in Lupane for power generation. This is part of the company’s $2,1 billion investment programme, which will also include the establishment of coal mines and a thermal power station. Globally, leading economies have recognised the importance of coal bed methane as an alternative energy source. They have already made major strides in the development of wells, pipelines and downstream industries. With coal bed methane, analysts say Zimbabwe could turn from a net importer of fertilisers to a net exporter. Coal bed methane is used to produce hydrogen which in turn, is used in the manufacture of ammonia for fertiliser. There are two coal basins in Zimbabwe; one is in the western part of the country and the other in the south east of the country. The country has an estimated measured coal bed methane resources that exceed the total measured resources in Sadc. According to some geological surveys, Sadc gas resources amount to 420 billion cubic metres while it is estimated that the Hwange/Lupane basins have over 800 million cubic metres per square kilometre. Zimbabwe is also believed to hold the largest known reserve of coal bed methane in subSaharan Africa. However, there is need for further feasibility work to move from a Measured Resource to a Proven Reserve. Early in 2012, Mozambique discovered coal and coal bed methane in areas that border Zimbabwe’s Manicaland Province. The CBM is believed to flow into Zimbabwe.
Minister Walter Chidhakwa