DDL partners with T&T distributor for ‘natural gas pilot’

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Launch of the LNG project at the Woodbine Room, Cara Lodge International Hotel, in Georgetown

Trinidad and Tobago based ICON LNG Holdings Ltd. and local beverage giant Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) on Wednesday formally launched their pilot project in Guyana, substituting in part, conventional fuels for cleaner Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) for power generation.

Held at the Woodbine Room of the Cara Lodge International Hotel in Georgetown, ICON’s Chief Financial Officer, John Thompson lauded the initiative saying natural gas currently serves as the most attractive fuel for countries looking to transition to renewables, such as Guyana.

DDL’s Chief Executive Officer, Komal Samaroo, speaking at the modest launching ceremony noted that the company’s fuel cost represents its second highest expenditure.

According to Samaroo, DDL in its quest to minimize cost and find a competitive advantage, “…found a project that resonates with us that target the second highest element of cost in our industry.”

The DDL CEO recalled that the company has over the years operated in an environment which at times undermines its competitiveness as a result of fiscal and other concessions afforded to global industry giants.

“We always have the challenge of how to take a traditional industry and make it competitive in a world that is changing every day,” Samaroo said.

As part of the pilot project, ICON LNG Holdings Inc. has since retrofitted one of DDL’s Generation sets in order to utilize a fuel mix of LNG and Diesel at a 60:40 ratio.

The genset currently operates on a 24-hour basis with the Liquefied Natural Gas being supplied by ICON LNG using 40 foot cryogenic tanks.

According to Samaroo, “we have been forced overtime to  become extremely innovative in what we do…we are on a continuous search for improvement and innovation in everything we do,” he told those gathered for the soft launch including representatives of the National Milling Company (NAMILCO) and the Guyana Power and Light (GPL).

Samaroo was unwavering in his support for natural gas as a viable option for DDL and other local companies in the future, saying, “DDL believes in the future of natural gas [as an economical fuel] particularly at this time in our history when our country is poised for greater economic buoyancy arising from the oil sector.”

According to ICON LNG, the company through its pilot is looking to demonstrate the viability of the use of dual fuels for power generation and is looking to partner with not just the Private Sector but even Government.

It was noted that should the company be able to secure large enough supply contracts with the Private Sector and possibly Government, then the entity would be looking to invest tens of millions of US dollars in Guyana to put in place the requisite infrastructure required for storage and distribution of natural gas.

Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA), Dr. Mahender Sharma, also on hand for the historic launch in Guyana, used the opportunity to remind that the use of natural gas in Guyana is in fact “not contrary to the direction the country is heading in.”

He was at the time referencing Guyana’s commitment to using 100% renewable sources of energy—a policy that “still remains vibrant.

He stressed, however, that in order to attain 100% renewable energy, there is going to require a transitional effort and that Natural gas presents an excellent opportunity.

Dr. Sharma, in lauding the natural gas initiative, also reminded of the volatility that obtains by being dependent on only one type of fuel.

“If we are only reliant on one source off energy then our vulnerability to risk increases dramatically,” he said.

The GEA CEO was adamant, “natural gas in LNG form presents an opportunity to displace dirtier fossil fuels,” adding, “I look forward to seeing this technology being embraced by the private sector.”

ICON LNG Holdings Inc. currently sources its natural gas from neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago.

Dr. Sharma subsequently told OilNOW that the likelihood of using LNG from natural gas sourced from Guyana’s oil fields will be dependent on the demand.

It was explained that while Guyana would have access to Natural Gas, liquefying the gas would require significant capital investments and, as such, any conversion of Guyana’s natural gas to LNG for local use will be determined by the economic factors.