Guyana shortlists sites for ‘natural gas’ power plant

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David Patterson , Guyana's Minister of Public Infrastructure

The Guyana Government has identified two sites in Regions Four and Six for the construction of a new power generation facility, utilizing natural gas to be had from offshore oil production activities.

The revelation was made by Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson as he addressed the penultimate day of the legislative debate for the 2018 National Budget Estimates on Thursday

Mr. Patterson told legislators that a final decision as it relates to the construction of the new power generation plant using natural gas, “will be made by the end of first quarter in 2018.”

He indicated to the House that the move was in keeping with the Government’s policy of pursuing a variety of “projects to diversify our energy mix and strengthen the power generation sector.”

As such, he reported that during the course of 2017 “Government has been actively engaged in discussions regarding the commercial use of natural gas from our offshore resources as a transitional fuel for Guyana’s economy.”

According to the Minister with responsibility for the country’s public infrastructure and energy generation, such ventures “could involve the landing of a pipeline to bring gas onshore as well as the construction of a new power generation facility and design and mapping of an industrial park in close proximity to this power generation facility.”

The announcement by Patterson comes days after ExxonMobil, Upstream Country Manager Doug Mc Gehee, indicated to local stakeholders that ExxonMobil was in fact currently studying the feasibility of having available natural gas brought onshore in order to power the envisioned power plant or similar ventures.

The company’s Country Manager, Rod Henson, told OilNOW in September that based on preliminary investigations, diverting natural gas to shore is technically feasible, but the study of making this a reality is still in the early stages.

Various Government speakers including Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman and Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, have in recent months floated the idea of the construction of a natural gas powered electricity plant in order to generate cheaper power for domestic and commercial purposes.

Natural gas has been found along with the crude discovered in the Stabroek block through explorations conducted by ExxonMobil.

Large quantities of the gas as well as water will be reinjected into the oil wells in order to maintain the pressure required for extracting crude from the ultra-deep operations.

The coalition A Partnership for National Unity, Alliance for Change (APNU-AFC) Administration had commissioned a feasibility study in order to determine how best to transport natural gas from the Liza oil field to shore, and to use it to fuel electricity generation.

Included in the feasibility study is the retrofitting of existing power plants in order to use natural gas – a venture that preliminary studies found to be feasible.

Mr. Patterson has said it would be feasible for Guyana Power and Light to use natural gas instead of heavy fuel oil to generate electricity.

According to the Minister, the new generators at Vreed-en-Hoop and Kingston power stations could also be converted to use natural gas, “but obviously it is all a question of cost, affordability, delivery and those things.”

Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, earlier this year appeared before the Parliamentary Select Committee on Natural Resources where he indicated that excess natural gas amounting to 50 million cubic feet per day could be used to power a 200 watt natural gas energy generation plant.