(INEWS)If the natural gas reserves of Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname are developed to its full potential, these countries could supply the regional electricity needs for a century, President Dr Irfaan Ali has calculated.
He delivered this position on Tuesday during the opening of the 2023 Energy Conference at the Marriott Hotel in Georgetown, explaining that there are many opportunities that exist in the natural gas industry.
The Head of State gave an example of Brazil’s Roraima being the only State outside of the national grid and the cost it incurs to generate electricity for that population.
“In order to generate electricity, they have to transport fossil fuel trucks from Manaus, the capital of the neighbouring State of Amazonas – 780km from Boa Vista, the capital of Roraima. This year alone, the Federal Government will have to subsidise electricity in the State of Roraima by US$2.3 billion…for a population in that State of three million persons in a country with a population of 214 million…”
Against this backdrop, the Guyanese President spoke of the natural gas potentials that exist right within the Caribbean – which, if fully realised, can generate cheaper and cleaner electricity.
He outlined that Guyana’s Ministry of Finance midyear report states that the country’s estimated recoverable gas reserve is 17 trillion cubic feet – making Guyana one of the largest holders of natural gas reserves in the region.
“Venezuela is approximately 200 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves. In the Guyana-Suriname basin, it is estimated to have more than 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Trinidad and Tobago has proven reserves of natural gas of 10 trillion cubic feet and an estimated potential of 23 trillion cubic feet.”
“It has 54 trillion cubic feet of gas to produce 7.3 million gigawatt hours of energy. So, with the combined estimated electricity needs for CARICOM and Roraima, of some 40 thousand gigawatt hours, the combined gas potential of Guyana – I’m just sticking to electricity – Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, alone, could provide energy for more than 100 years.”
Guyana is currently in talks with a number of countries on an energy corridor, with a regional energy strategy being crafted. The countries expected to participate in that strategy include Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil and even Barbados, which has natural gas potential.
The first time President Ali spoke of Trinidad’s interest in the energy corridor initiative was back in June 2022 at the Suriname Energy, Oil & Gas Summit & Exhibition, when he had disclosed that a regional energy strategy that would connect the oil and natural gas producers in the region is being crafted.
At the time, the Guyanese Leader had said that while Guyana, Suriname and Brazil had already started talks on combining their ability to create an energy corridor and unlock the potential for a series of manufacturing and industrial development, Trinidad is also interested in working along with them in unlocking some of this potential.
There has been talk of an energy corridor for some time, with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) conducting both baseline and pre-feasibility studies. Guyana is in fact a party to a Memorandum of Understanding on the Northern Arc (Arco Norte) Interconnection Project which seeks to evaluate the feasibility of a possible collaboration on the energy transmission system for the electric interconnection of Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana and the northern cities of Brazil.
Meanwhile, Guyana is already developing an integrated Natural Gas Liquid (NGL) plant and a 300-megawatt (MW) combined cycle power plant at Wales, West Bank Demerara (WBD).
The project will see ExxonMobil piping gas from the Liza Field in the Stabroek Block onshore at Wales via pipelines that it will procure, install and maintain.
Based on studies conducted, ExxonMobil will be able to produce up to 50 million cubic feet of gas per day for this initiative without impacting oil production activities offshore.
The operationalisation of the gas-to-energy project is expected to result in current electricity charges being cut in half which will fuel the expansion of the industrial and commercial sectors.
So far, Government has spent $24.6 billion on the start-up of this project.
This includes $400 million for the acquisition of private lands to facilitate the laying of pipelines in Region Three and the remaining $24.213 billion was a 15 per cent payment on the Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract, which was awarded to US companies CH4 and Lindsayca late last year. The total cost of the EPC contract is US$759.8 million.
In addition to the EPC contract, the supervision of the NGL and power plant components of the project will cost another US$23 million.
With a timetable to deliver rich gas to fuel the power plant by the end of 2024 and the NGL plant to be online by 2025, works are progressing on getting the gas-to-energy project off the ground.