Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Natural gas and helium group Renergen has started SA’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) auction as it gears up production at what could be the world’s largest helium deposit.

Renergen’s Free State gas field is SA’s only onshore petroleum production right, with the group now inviting bids for the LNG that the Virginia project will produce.

The company said on Monday it expects to complete its first phase expansion plans of the project by 2021, while the second phase is expected to further boost production by 2023.

Renergen said earlier in July the deposit could be the world’s largest. The principal asset of Renergen, which is listed on the JSE and Australia’s ASX, is the Tetra4 site in the Free State.

It was estimated in a report commissioned by the emerging natural gas and helium producer from global energy consulting firm Sproule that the prospective helium resource at the Virginia Gas Project could be as big as 9.74-billion cubic metre. This could exceed the entire proven reserves of North America, the group said recently.

Helium is critically important for the medical industry and is used for cooling in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines. It is also needed for the manufacture of fibreoptic cables, the cooling of nuclear power and the propulsion of rockets into space. It is a key input for the defence industry.

In morning trade on Monday Renergen’s share was up 3.77% to R13.76, having risen 41.13% so far in 2020.

With Lisa Steyn

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za

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