June 8, 2023 [bnamericas]- Colombia’s Promigas expects an expansion of its Cartagena liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal to provide “strategic support” to the country’s energy supply amid forecasts of a looming El Nino drought.
In its latest quarterly results presentation, the company said it was pushing ahead with plans to expand regasification capacity at the facility on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.
“During the first quarter of 2023, a market survey was carried out, in which different stakeholders confirmed their interest in additional LNG regasification capacity,” the firm said.
In late 2021, Promigas announced the start of technical studies to raise the plant’s peak vaporization rate by 200Mf3/d (million cubic feet a day) within four years, part of wider efforts to meet surging domestic gas demand.
The Barranquilla-based company has a 51% equity stake in the SPEC consortium that operates the Cartagena terminal, with the remainder held by Dutch tank storage company Royal Vopak.
Completed in 2016 at a cost of US$427mn, the Cartagena LNG plant currently boasts a 170,000m3 floating storage regasification unit (FSRU) with regasification capacity of 400Mf3/d.
It is connected to the national gas network via a 9.2km pipeline. SPEC also holds long-term contracts to supply three local gas-fired power plants: Tebsa, Termocandelaria and Prime Energía.
The Cartagena LNG expansion plans coincide with a relaunched tender process for a new LNG import facility on Colombia’s Pacific coast.
Potential developers have until July 6 to present technical and economic bids for the project, which includes a 170,000m3 LNG regasification plant and a 120km pipeline that would transport up to 400Mf3/d to Yumbo, on the northern outskirts of Cali.
Efforts to ramp up LNG imports come as meteorologists predict the onset of an El Niño dry period in the second half of the year, an event that could severely reduce the availability of hydroelectric power.
Hydroelectricity accounts for more than two-thirds of Colombia’s installed power capacity and in times of drought the country relies on back-up thermoelectric plants fired by gas, coal or liquid fuels to avoid shortages.
“[LNG] is a strategic support asset that provides reliability and firmness to the electricity generation system of Colombia, especially at the most critical moments [such as] during the El Niño phenomenon,” Promigas said in the presentation.
The company has not revealed an investment forecast for the expansion but the first phase – which envisages a capacity increase of 50Mf3 – is expected to require more than US$50mn.
Promigas said the volume of LNG received at its Cartagena terminal reached 41,890m3 in the first quarter, up from 20,520m3 a year earlier.
Gas deliveries from the facility surged to 254Mf3 compared to 21Mf3 in the first quarter last year.
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