DNG – Championing the LNG Value Chain
Q: PLEASE GIVE AN OVERVIEW OF THE BACKGROUND OF DNG
A: DNG is a liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure and supply company that was established in 2013 by South African entrepreneur, Aldworth Mbalati. We are present in four African countries: South Africa, Mozambique, Ghana and Nigeria. Our reason for existence is bringing about an energy revolution through the provision of LNG. We are investing in smart LNG infrastructure to ensure that we contribute to the revival of Africa’s economy by ensuring availability of stable, affordable and sustainable power.
Q: WHAT SERVICES DO YOU SUPPLY?
A: We have an LNG bunkering licence, which allows us to supply LNG to international ships that pass through South Africa’s Algoa Bay, and we are finalising authorisation to be able to supply the local South African market with LNG. We have operations that traverse the whole LNG supply chain from importing, distribution to beneficiation of large quantities of LNG. Our services will include bunkering, feeding LNG to marine, road and rail transport, commercial and industrial operations, gas-to-power plants, ordinary homes and manufacturing cryogenic, and gas equipment for our operations and other clients in the industry.
Q: HOW WILL LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS IMPACT ON THE ENERGY MIX IN SOUTH AFRICA – AND WHAT BENEFITS DOES IT PROVIDE?
A: LNG is used as a cleaner and affordable fuel for transportation, commercial and industrial operations as well as powering homes and gas-to-power projects. LNG has less carbon than other fossil fuels so it will fast-track the move to a decarbonised energy industry that achieves just transition.
The availability of large volumes of LNG through DNG’s activities at Coega will therefore mean that South Africa has security of supply to feed gas-fired power stations with a reliable source. In addition, LNG plays an important role in stabilising the electricity grid that will be largely supplied by renewables as envisaged in the Integrated Resources Plan (IRP 2019). The building of new gas- fired power plants, and conversion of existing diesel-fired turbines to using LNG, will bring about new skills and opportunities for jobs in the gas power market.
Q: WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF YOUR MAJOR MILESTONES AS CEO OF DNG?
A: One of the notable milestones was when DNG introduced a small-scale LNG solution for natural gas users in Ghana in 2016. The two main end-users were Trojan and Sunon Assogli power plants, who were to consume LNG transported by DNG from Nigeria and delivered through the Port at Tema and then ultimately distributed to the power plants via LNG trucks and ISO tanks. However, the biggest milestone so far is DNG getting the bunkering licence for Coega. This is going to be a game changer for energy provision and security in the country and continent. Our footprint will become global, as we will begin serving international ships passing through Algoa Bay, and the country will move to greater heights on the back of economic development that will be brought about by DNG’s activities at Coega.
Q: WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR GREATEST PAIN POINTS AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
A: I would say that the pains we have experienced were growing pains of the industry. The regulatory environment for LNG is still in infancy. The process of obtaining the bunkering licence took a whopping seven years of hard work. However, we have learnt a lot during this period and are proud to have charted a way in this industry putting in place blueprints that will make it easier for those who will follow us. We have also gained invaluable knowledge and experience in dealing with multiple stakeholders and ensuring that the process delivers positive results for all concerned.
Q: HOW HAS COVID IMPACTED ON YOUR BUSINESS?
A: We are fortunate that our team is still intact, and we went through the first wave without any loss of life. Our business suffered some delays in terms of timelines we had set for ourselves, but we are working hard to catch up on those plans. One such project was the construction of the DNG loading container and transport barge, which we are now working towards finishing in 2021.
Q: WHAT PLANS DO YOU HAVE FOR 2021?
A: In 2021 we plan to get underway with bunkering in Algoa Bay and then expand our operations to the port of Maputo.
Q: DO YOU HAVE A MESSAGE FOR BUSINESSES AND PEOPLE OUT THERE STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE?
A: Hard times are part of the journey of life, so it is important to plan and build resilience within the business systems. This is where creativity, agility and resourcefulness come into play. One may even find opportunities, during times of crises, when these are approached with a cool head. Partnerships also help as one can collaborate with a like-minded business or person to serve a certain need. I believe that it is in serving that we get to be our best and reap good rewards. I am saying this being mindful that we sometimes face circumstances that are beyond any plan we may have put in place. This is where the spirit of Ubuntu comes into play. If we are to survive into the future, we must go beyond narrow business interests and build in care packages in the business system that will take care of society when times are hard. This could be in the form of big business assisting small businesses who are struggling to rise above hard times to remain sustainable.