Yesterday gasworld kicked off its 2019 in Review Series with Messer, who cited its biggest highlight of 2019 as the company’s return to the American market.
Today’s interview is with emerging helium and LNG producer Renergen. The South African company’s flagship project is its Virginia Gas Project, which comprises the exploration and production rights of 187,000 hectares of gas fields across Welkom, Virginia and Theunissen, in the Free State, South Africa. Renergen announced last week it had broken ground at the project. Once completed in 2021, the plant is expected to produce around 2,700 gigajoules of LNG and 350 kilograms of liquid helium per day. “2019 has been a truly significant year for the company,” CEO Stefano Marani enthuses to gasworld. Marani expands more on Renergen’s 2019 highlights, the Virginia Gas Project and what the climate is like in the LNG sector at the moment below.
Gasworld (GW): The Virginia Gas Project is due to come on stream in 2021. What will be the key milestones for the project in 2020?
Stefano Marani (SM): There are quite a few, but the more important ones include completion of the detailed designs of the plant and pipeline, breaking ground on construction of the pipeline, shipping of the modular plant and completion of the installation of the plant. Completion of the horizontal well is also an important event for the company, although not relevant to the commencement of operation in 2021 as the horizontal well is being drilled to determine the scale of the second helium plant.
GW: What would you say have been the success stories for Renergen this year?
SM: 2019 has been a truly significant year for the company. We secured a $40m loan from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation of the United States (OPIC), completed an oversubscribed IPO on the Australian Stock Exchange, secured a significant LNG off-take agreement with logistics company Black Knight, awarded the pipeline construction contract to EPCM Bonisana, the natural gas and helium liquefaction plant to WSCE and commenced the horizontal well in the sandstone trap in our production area.
I am hoping 2020 will slow down a little!
GW: Wow, you’ve certainly had a busy 2019! What would you say has been the biggest highlight for the company?
SM: Securing the loan from the OPIC. Anyone who has ever received funding from a public institution will know the level of scrutiny undertaken, and we believe this is a clear endorsement of the Virginia Gas Project and its future potential in becoming a significant role player in the helium world in the medium term.
GW: Linked to the helium exploration of course is your activity in LNG, what is the climate like in the LNG sector at the moment?
SM: LNG is a very localised commodity. Natural gas supply in South Africa remains hugely constrained with many physical and regulatory impediments preventing more supply coming into the country.
Renergen’s demand base vastly exceeds our ability to supply in the short to medium term, meaning we have no plans to export LNG.
GW: Finally, if you had one thing on your bucket list for the gases industry, what would it be and why?
SM: That is a tough one. Probably finding a technology that can effectively separate the helium-3 from our helium supply.