Jamaica Moves Closer to Importing Liquefied Natural Gas

Jamaica’s goal of reducing its dependency on fossil fuel and importing cheaper, more environmentally friendly liquefied natural gas (LNG) is another step closer to reality as potential bidders for the construction of a terminal and storage facility toured the proposed site at Port Esquivel recently.


Accompanying the touring teams was Special Envoy on Energy Matters, Ambassador Anthony Hylton who told JIS News that seven companies had indicated their interest in the project, however, only two were on hand for the reconnaissance.


Ambassador Hylton explained that the seven companies had responded positively to a request for a proposal to undertake the project, with two of the companies requiring a site visit prior to submitting their tender.


The two that took part in the site visit were Hyundai Engineering Company Limited in Korea and Mustang Wood Group of Houston, Texas. Representatives of the latter were from the company’s subsidiary in Trinidad and Tobago, that is, the Neal and Massey Wood Group.


According to Ambassador Hylton, bids should be submitted by mid-June and the successful bidder would be determined by the end of June.


A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed last November with Trinidad was for the supply of the gas by that country and not for the construction of the facility. However, Ambassador Hylton pointed out that the MOU allows Trinidad to have equity in the project, which should cost approximately US$250 million.


Construction of the facility should commence by the middle of 2006 and commissioned into service by 2008. It would allow for the receipt and storage of the gas in its cold liquid form at Port Esquivel where it would be re-gasified by applying heat and distributed through pipelines to end users.


Companies that would benefit directly form the construction of the LNG facility include JAMALCO and the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPSCo) power plants at Old Harbour and Hunts Bay.


Ambassador Hylton pointed out that the importation of LNG would aid JAMALCO in its planned capacity expansion. Noting that the processing of aluminium is a very “energy-intensive activity”, he added that the reduced energy cost and certainty of pricing resulting from the MOU would auger well for the company’s expansion.


JPSCo’s General Manager, David Cook expressed appreciation of the investment, noting that the company hoped to substitute petroleum with LNG to produce more than 300 megawatts of its current production of 600 megawatts of electricity. He added that the Hunt’s Bay facility would be expanded by 120 megawatts using LNG and that the Old Harbour steam units would be to converted with LNG to produce some 200 megawatts of electricity.


“This basically would provide a more fuel-efficient base that would ultimately benefit our customers,” he said.


Apart from the construction of the LNG facility, Ambassador Hylton pointed out that there were plans to utilise the cold energy from the gas to provide power to a proposed industrial park that would be constructed alongside the LNG terminal. The park would include businesses that require high amounts of energy in their manufacturing processes, Mr. Hylton explained.