Saturday, August 13, 2022

Guyana’s gas can drive agriculture expansion

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While much of the attention has been on the benefits of low electricity rates with the gas-to-shore project that is poised to come on stream by 2024 in Guyana, former Energy Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kevin Ramnarine recently posited that there can be significant benefits for Guyana’s agricultural sector too.

Speaking on an OilNOW TV gas to power webinar, Ramnarine said Guyana can process some of its gas into protein for animal feed. The former Energy Minister was keen to note as well that President Irfaan Ali had expressed interest in such a venture earlier this year. In January last, the Head of State had disclosed his government’s intentions to have a protein power plant set up in Region Three. With such a plant, natural gas would be pumped through a fermenter and the microorganisms from naturally occurring microbes found in soil, would metabolize the gas as their sole source of energy, thereby producing high-protein biomass. This would therefore help Guyana to be more competitive in livestock export.

Expounding on this front, Ramnarine said, “…We have a pilot plant at the University of Trinidad and Tobago that is supposed to be doing gas to protein. I don’t know if the plant is operational because I haven’t been updated about that plant but…gas to protein is being done commercially in Norway.”

He added, “…I’m being told it’s being done commercially in Germany and this protein is used to make animal feed, it’s used to make feed for cattle and for chicken and so on. So, it is a potential linkage between the natural gas and the Agricultural sector which is Guyana’s major non-energy type industry.”

Since 2019, several oil majors such as Royal Dutch Shell and Total have been turning to natural gas and examining options for its use as the world transitions to cleaner forms of energy.

BP for example, which is one of the companies operating in Trinidad’s waters, had returned to the animal feed business after leaving same almost a quarter of a century ago. The UK oil explorer and producer even invested US$30 million in Calysta Inc., which produces protein for fish, livestock, and pet food. These and other similar investments have been deemed to be timely since the global aquaculture market is expected to grow up to 25 percent by 2025.

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