Natural Gas Consumption in South Africa Has Been Declining since 2018

Natural gas currently accounts for approximately 2.6% of South Africa’s primary energy needs [1]. In 2020, South Africa used around 4.05 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Over the last decade, the consumption of natural gas in the country has fluctuated between a minimum of 3.65 billion cubic meters (in 2016) to a maximum of 4.41 billion cubic meters (in 2018), as can be observed in the graph below. From 2018 to 2020, natural gas consumption has been declining.

Annual natural gas consumption in South Africa (in billion cubic meters)

Compiled using data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy [2].

Since the natural gas market in South Africa is very small, any correlation between the country’s consumption of natural gas and its level of GHG emissions is insignificant at this stage.

South Africa is an importer of natural gas. Approximately 90% of the country’s current natural gas demand is met by Sasol Gas [1]. Sasol Gas imports natural gas from the Temane and Pande gas fields in Mozambique via an 865 km pipeline. This pipeline has an annual capacity of 240 million GJ. Around 50% is used each year by Sasol in the gas-to-liquids (GTL) and chemical plants in Secunda, within the Mpumalanga province. The remaining 50% is distributed to industrial and commercial businesses in the provinces of Mpumalanga, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State [3].

In terms of policies, South Africa has the Gas Act 48 of 2001 (currently under review) which aims to promote the development of the piped gas industry and to establish a national regulatory framework and a national gas regulator [4]. The national gas regulatory functions are conducted by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA). The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy is also working on a Gas Master Plan which will provide a roadmap for strategic, political and institutional decisions. One of the major challenges to the entry in the gas market in South Africa is the compliance to environmental regulations as the requirements are time consuming and expensive [1].

Rating: Thumbs up to South Africa’s use of natural gas (which is very low). In fact, in 2021, a South African court put a stop to Shell’s gas exploration along the eastern coastline [5]. Although burning natural gas for energy is considered to be cleaner than burning coal, gas extraction disrupts land and marine ecosystems and can contaminate water sources. Renewable sources of energy should be used instead.

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This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard South Africa Country Manager Deepti Charitar


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