Kudu gas project might not be viable for Namibia – Energy Minister

WINDHOEK, Aug 13 (Reuters) – Namibia's long-delayed Kudu gas-to-power project, seen as key to boosting electricity security in the southwest African country, might not be viable, Mines and Energy Minister Tom Alweendo said on Monday.

Namibia's offshore Kudu Gas Fields have proven and probable recoverable reserves estimated at more than 3.3 trillion cubic feet and are a central part of the country's plans to reduce its dependence on electricity imports. But the project has been delayed for around 25 years.

Alweendo, speaking on state broadcaster Namibia Broadcasting Corporation, said he was not sure the project would take off after years of delays due to the related export agreements.

"I have been hearing this thing for a very long time now, but I am not convinced that it is viable unless you show me otherwise," Alweendo said.

"If it was viable it would have happened already. If it did not happen for the last 25 years, there is something wrong."

The project, the estimated costs of which run into billions of dollars, would entail gas from the offshore field being transferred to a floating production system before being piped some 170 kms (105 miles) to a planned power plant at Oranjemund along the coast.

Power Utility NamPower said in April the planned Kudu Power Station would be resized from 850 megawatt (MW) down to 442.5 MW after off-take agreements with South Africa's power utility Eskom and Zambia's Copperbelt Energy Corporation failed to materialise.

The sparsely populated southern African nation's installed capacity is 513 MW.

(By Nyasha Nyaungwa; Editing by Hugh Lawson)