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Virginia gas project, South Africa – update

Helium block at the Virginia gas project

Photo by Renergen

10th May 2024

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Name of the Project
Virginia gas project.

Location
The project spans 187 000 ha of gasfields across Welkom, Virginia and Theunissen, in the Free State, South Africa.

Project Owner/s
Tetra4, a subsidiary of domestic natural gas and helium producer Renergen.

Project Description
The project entails the construction of 52 km of gas-gathering pipeline and cryogenic liquefaction processing facilities.

The aim is to produce all South Africa’s helium requirements and export the balance of production, as well as the first liquefied natural gas (LNG), for commercial consumption.

Phase 1 aims to produce up to 350 kg/d of helium. Output will be increased through the construction of Phase 2, expected in 2026, “arguably making it amongst the bigger helium projects on the planet", Renergen CEO Stefano Marani has said.

This will deliver more than 0.4-billion cubic feet (bcf) of helium, which, over 19 years, amounts to 7.6 bcf, or just over half of its estimated proven and probable reserves.

Phase 1 of the project will produce about 50 t/d of LNG, which is about 75 000 ℓ/d of diesel equivalent.

Phase 2 of the project will entail drilling additional gas wells, constructing additional gas-gathering pipelines and a larger processing and liquefaction facility, as well as the associated road tanker distribution and downstream customer dispensing facilities.

In this phase, production output will increase by 34 400 GJ/d of LNG and 4 200 kg/d of liquid helium, in addition to the Phase 1 operation.

Potential Job Creation
It will create an estimated 360 temporary jobs during development and construction, and an estimated 160 permanent jobs once all the clusters have been developed. Although this is small, relative to mining operations, energy is typically a catalyst and has the effect of creating significant knock-on opportunities by offering clean, reliable energy.

Capital Expenditure
The total Phase 1 projected capital expenditure to roll out the first phase of production was about R1-billion, which included the cryogenic liquefiers. Phase 2 is estimated at $1.16-billion.

Planned Start/End Date
Phase 2 of the Virginia project is expected to start construction in 2023, and is expected to start operations in 2026.

Latest Developments
Renergen can now liquify helium in batches from its wells at the Virginia gas project.

Since April 2, the original-equipment manufacturer (OEM) that supplied the equipment has brought the helium cold box to the appropriate temperature to liquify helium. A part of this process involves the purification of the helium to 99.999% purity, which Renergen has said has been validated by an independent third-party laboratory.

The OEM is now ensuring that the operating conditions are satisfactory to start the performance test, at which stage the helium train will be put into continuous operation mode.

To provide assurance that future shutdowns and restarts run smoothly, the helium train will be taken offline and the process will restart from ambient conditions to ensure repeatability, and that every process in the production cycle is documented and recorded with the OEM present.

The company has reported that production of liquefied natural gas has not ceased at any stage throughout the process and will continue to operate.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
Phase 1:
Sproule, formerly MHA Petroleum (helium reserve independent expert report); and VGI (owner’s engineer regarding the engineering and procurement phase of the project).

EPCM Bonisana (gas-gathering work), a subsidiary of EPCM Holdings (engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor – Phase 1 gas-gathering pipeline).

Western Shell Cryogenic Equipment (technology and equipment); Babcock (DAF CF 430 trucks); and Volvo (FM440 trucks).

Phase 2:
Saipem (front-end engineering design, or FEED, contract for the development of the downstream LNG and liquid helium processing facilities, including the associated balance of the plant).

Sproule (evaluation and certification of reserves, based on the results of the additional data acquisition and current drilling campaign. This will build on previous work undertaken by MHA Petroleum Consultants, acquired by Sproule in 2019).

Worley RSA (scope of owners engineer role to execute the expansion of the Virginia gas project).

The company is tendering the EPC contract to experienced helium and LNG equipment suppliers, based on the FEED.

Contact Details for Project Information
Renergen, tel +27 10 045 6000, email info@renergen.co.za or investorrelations@renergen.co.za.
 

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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