Zest WEG is supplying locally manufactured transformers, switchgear and substations to South Africa’s exciting onshore natural gas and helium project, Tetra4. Being developed by emerging producer Renergen near Virginia in the Free State province, the natural gas deposit reportedly contains world-beating concentrations of helium – up to 12% compared to typical levels of around 0,5%.

The first phase of the project is advancing well, with the construction of the liquid natural gas (LNG) and helium plant scheduled for completion by the end of 2021 or early in 2022.

According to Lukas Barnard, Zest WEG’s sector specialist – oil and gas business development, the equipment ordered is on track to be delivered and installed in the third quarter of this year.

“The transformers we have been contracted to supply are a 7MVA 33/11KV unit and two 1.5MVA 6.6/0.4KV units, being manufactured locally at our transformer facility in Wadeville,” says Barnard. “We will also supply the 33kV, 11kV and 6,6kV medium voltage switchgear, which will be installed into two six-metre containerised substations, being locally manufactured by the company at its Heidelberg facility.”

One of the two six-metre containerised substations being supplied to the Tetra4 onshore natural gas and helium project. Photo credit: Zest WEG

One of the two six-metre containerised substations being supplied to the Tetra4 onshore natural gas and helium project. Photo credit: Zest WEG

“The medium voltage switchgear will be installed in the modular substations in Heidelberg, where a factory acceptance test will be conducted before equipment is transported to site,” he says. “The complete package is managed with a single point of contact – a project manager – at Zest Weg, easing the customer’s administrative burden.”

Renergen says it wanted a supplier with the necessary experience and expertise, but more than that it needed a partner who could meet the tight delivery requirements, with enough flexibility to find solutions to the challenges related to a project of this nature.

“There have been many benefits working with local companies including additional flexibility and control, while allowing us to react quickly to changes and challenges that arise as we roll out the project,” says Nick Mitchell, Renergen Chief Operating Officer.

The switchgear installed inside one of the six-metre containerised substations. Photo credit: Zest WEG

The switchgear installed inside one of the six-metre containerised substations. Photo credit: Zest WEG

“Any support of local business has far reaching economic benefits for the communities in which they operate and this remains a critical balance for us to achieve in a project, where not all the components can be manufactured locally or are available locally. It also reduces currency risk by minimising our exposure to exchange rate fluctuations.”

Renergen also emphasises the advantage of the suppliers’s package solutions capability, especially in a project like this with multiple streams of work that need to be coordinated across multi-disciplinary teams. Barnard says this is where the company’s project manager added considerable value in terms of management, procurement and project flow.

“When multiple contractors and suppliers are involved, the project flow becomes very difficult and can generate significantly more risk,” he says. “Our project manager was able to work with the customer to mitigate these risks and streamline the roll-out.”

He also notes the advantages of the containerised and E-House modular substations in fast track projects. By manufacturing the units in a dedicated facility, the comany provided an efficient solution while reducing the on-site responsibilities of the project developers.

“Building a brick-and-mortar substation means more personnel and activity on site over an extended period, with all the related health and safety implications such as inductions and medical checks,” says Barnard. “It is quicker and far more convenient to build it in a well-equipped facility such as ours where it is also possible to run factory acceptance tests before delivery.”

The locally-manufactured 7MVA transformer ready for transportation to site. Photo credit: Zest WEG

The locally-manufactured 7MVA transformer ready for transportation to site. Photo credit: Zest WEG