– Three locations being considered, project to come on stream next year
By Navendra Seoraj
CLOSE to 2,000 acres of land is required for the construction of a power plant to facilitate the potential gas-to-energy project, which is set to come on stream next year.
Part of the plan by the new People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government is to reduce the cost of energy by 50 per cent through an energy mix, which includes the conversion of natural gas from ExxonMobil’s offshore operations to electricity.
President of ExxonMobil’s local operation, Alistair Routledge was reported recently as saying that about one-fifth of the resources discovered so far in the Stabroek Block contains natural gas, most of which would be associated gas produced with the crude oil.
It is common knowledge that natural gas can be used to generate electricity in a variety of ways, but, the local plan is to establish an industrial facility that generates electricity from primary energy, which, in this case, is natural gas.
A special task force established by President Irfaan Ali to assess the feasibility of a gas-to-energy project, has since determined that close to 2,000 acres of land would be needed to construct a power generation facility.
This is according to Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, who, during a recent interview with the Sunday Chronicle at his Brickdam office, said getting natural gas to shore is just one aspect of the project as authorities also have to identify and acquire adequate space for the establishment of a power plant.
The potential site for a power plant is being considered simultaneously with a location for the landing of pipes, which will run directly from ExxonMobil’s operations to a designated area onshore Guyana.
“There were several studies done before by a number of different agencies such as public infrastructure and the finance ministry, and there are a few people who were involved in those studies, who are still there…a few of them are even part of the task force, so they have good knowledge about the project,” said Minister Bharrat, adding that preliminary information from those studies show three potential areas for the landing of a pipeline.
Among those areas are Berbice, East Coast of Demerara and Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara).
“We have different options that we are looking at, but whatever the technical team comes up with and recommends, that is what we will work with…they are looking at the best site in terms of cost effectiveness,” said Minister Bharrat.
In considering a location for both the power plant and landing of the pipe, authorities will also have to cater for future expansion of the gas-to-energy project.
The government will be looking to wrap up these considerations and discussions soon, as the intention is to bring the project on stream in 2021.
Just Friday last, Executive Director of the Payne Institute for Earth Resources and Research Professor of Public Policy at the Colorado School of Mines, Dr. Morgan Bazilian, said general regulatory and technical measures must be implemented to mitigate gas flaring in future oil production projects.
Among the technical measures he suggested is the gas-to-energy initiative, which will not only mitigate gas flaring, but provide ‘tremendous’ benefits to Guyanese.
“This project will provide reliable energy and cleaner energy…people are of the opinion that because Guyana has oil we will forsake our work with the LCDS (Low Carbon Development Strategy) for oil and gas. Yes, we intend to explore oil and gas to the fullest because people need that to develop the country, but it will not be at the expense of the environment,” said Minister Bharrat.
Contrary to the perception that oil and gas will be detrimental to the environment, the Minister believes that gas-to-energy will go a far way in ensuring that there is clean energy because there will be no more burning of diesel or ‘Bonasika’ fuel, which is heavy.
Minister Bharrat assured that Guyana will have reliable, cleaner and cheaper energy, which will not only benefit households, but also stimulate growth in the manufacturing and commercial sectors.
Guyana is said to have one of the highest costs of power generation in the world, a factor which has discouraged many businesses from investing here.
“With gas-to-energy, we will be able to produce energy at competitive rates and this will allow us to attract a lot of investors, especially in the manufacturing sector,” said Minister Bharrat.
He even envisages the country having one of the largest industrial parks in the Caribbean, with the advent of this project.
It was reported recently that the local economy like many others around the world has taken a ‘hit’ because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and although the direct and indirect effects of this scourge remain a challenge, the country is expected to see a ‘flurry’ of development projects in 2021.
Guyana, which sits on the edge of South America and has a population of about 750,000 people, is expected to ‘boom’ with its new-found oil wealth, wealth which will drive infrastructural development and other sectoral advancements.
Guyana has already raked in close to US$150 million from its oil and gas sector, with lots more to be earned, but the focus, as outlined by the new PPP/C government, will be on maintaining a diversified economy.
Progress is expected on all fronts President Ali had noted, pointing out that 2021 will be the year of investments and development.
He had said work will commence on the construction and rehabilitation of roads in hundreds of communities; new infrastructure will be created; and there will be major developments in every sector.
Additionally, private-sector investments are expected to increase, stretching from the construction of new shore bases to service the oil-and-gas sector, to new office complexes and other private development projects.