Ghana has taken delivery of sub-Saharan Africa's first offshore receiving terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG), allowing it to start delivering LNG to customers in the first quarter of this year, the terminal's operator said.
Tema LNG, which is backed by UK-based Helios Investment Partners, said in a statement that a floating regasification unit (FRU) built by a subsidiary of China State Shipbuilding Corporation arrived in Ghana on Thursday.
Shell will supply the LNG under a long-term contract, and the gas will be delivered to customers of Ghana's public utility service, it said.
"Once operational, this FRU will allow the Tema LNG facility to receive, re-gasify, store and deliver roughly 1.7 million tonnes of LNG a year – 30% of Ghana's general capacity," said project manager Edmund Agyeman-Duah in a statement.
Ghana tried to get an LNG import project off the ground for years, but two leading operators, Golar and Hoegh, withdrew due to delays over contracts.
Even as trade in LNG grows around the world, offering environmental benefits over other fossil fuels, Africa is not expected to become a large importer due to its vast gas deposits, much of which are yet to be commercially developed.
Ghana, West Africa's second-largest economy and a major producer of gold and cocoa, suffers from an unreliable supply of electricity.
"As evidenced in similar fast growing economies in Asia and Latin America, the introduction of LNG into the energy mix serves as a catalyst for industrial and economic growth," said Ogbemi Ofuya of Helios Investment Partners.
(Reporting by Christian Akorlie; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)