Gas-to-Power, Fuel for Senegal’s Transition

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Senegal is one of Africa’s largest natural gas producers, thanks to major discoveries offshore. Through the implementation of its gas-to-power masterplan, the government is leading a gas revolution aimed at efficiently monetizing the resource and providing stable and cheap electricity for Senegalese citizens.

Natural gas was first encountered in Senegal in 2015 in the Grand Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) field by frontier explorer Kosmos Energy, who later entered into a joint-operating venture with British supermajor BP. Successive discoveries since then have indicated that the field could produce up to 10 million tons of LNG per year. Beyond sizeable reserves, the project is unique in that it has allowed for a landmark cross-border cooperation agreement to be signed between Mauritania and Senegal. The GTA project is known as the fastest LNG project ever, with just six to seven years between discovery and projected first gas, which is scheduled for 2022.

Since the GTA discovery, gas-to-power has become an increasingly hot topic in Senegal and is now a key component to becoming a regional energy hub and an energy-independent nation.

To implement its gas-to-power masterplan, the Senegalese government is working closely with an integrated team comprising U.K.-based Penspen and MJMEnergy. Penspen will be responsible for studying technical aspects of the project, including multiple scenarios to connect final consumers with new gas supplies. It will also put together a conceptual gas network infrastructure design associated with the estimation of costs and a timeline. MJMEnergy will define the economics of the projects, including gas markets and finance related aspects. It will also develop the institutional framework and business requirements of the new public-private enterprise that will build and manage the gas network.

Production Areas

Senegal currently produces gas from the Gadiaga onshore field, most of which is consumed by large corporations. Two fields are expected to come into production by 2023: Sangomar, located offshore Dakar, and the GTA. Sangomar is expected to produce gas solely for use by national utility company SENELEC, at a rate of between 60 and 100 million cubic feet per day (mmscfd), enough to supply a 350 to 590-megawatt (MW) plant.

The GTA field, located offshore Saint-Louis and straddling the Senegal-Mauritania border, is expected to contain between 15 and 50 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The development plan for this field states that 35 mmscfd of natural gas will supply both countries upon first production, sufficient to power a 250 MW power plant in Senegal and in Mauritania.

First estimations from SENELEC state that the purchase price of natural gas will be around $5 to $6 per million British thermal units, thus lowering the price of electricity in Senegal by up to 50%.

Gas-to-Power Infrastructure

The requisite transportation infrastructure will be split into the North, South and Dakar networks. With a total length spanning 427 km, the project cost is estimated at $300 million and will be built in various phases.

The North segment will include a short line from the GTA to a power plant near Saint-Louis, which will then be extended by 140 km to the Tobene Power plant onshore, to be finalized by 2024. The South network will link the Dakar network to the Kahone power plant by 2023, and includes a 120 km pipeline. Finally, the Dakar network is the infrastructure centerpiece, to be commissioned in 2023. It will connect the Sangomar gas-producing field to several existing power plants around Dakar, achieving a total length of 157 km.

Electricity Production

In order to generate enough power to meet national goals, Senegal is moving forward with a dual strategy regarding its power plants. A number of existing power plants will be converted into dual-fuel power plants, while new combined cycle power plants will be commissioned by 2022-2023.

According to a study run by Sweden-based Wärtsilä, $61 million is necessary for conversion operations. Discussions are currently ongoing with the World Bank regarding funding for this particular project. Mostly located around Dakar, these power plants could be fed by Sangomar gas as early as 2023.

Wärtsilä was awarded the contract for the construction of a 130 MW Flexicycle power plant last year, in line with Senegal’s strategy to have flexible power plants ready to incorporate natural gas as feedstock.

Under the leadership of H.E. President Macky Sall, Senegal boasts tremendous growth figures, around 7% annually. Moreover, the country’s upward trajectory shows no signs of slowing, with Senegal positioned by the CIA’s World Factbook as the twelfth fastest-growing economy in the world by 2023. Such figures, coupled with massive hydrocarbon discoveries have made Senegal a top investment destination globally.