GUYANA: Prof. Terrence Blackman questions landing site for gas-to-shore project

The proposed Wales Sugar Estate site for landing the gas pipeline.

April 11, 2021 – Kaieteur News – Pursuit of a gas-to-shore project in Guyana is being touted as a likely way to reduce the cost of the generation of electricity in the country, but the development of such a project with a pipeline from the Stabroek Block, slated to be landed at Wales on the West Bank of Demerara, must be done in a clear and transparent manner. 

US-based Guyanese Professor, Terrence Blackman

This would entail decisions being taken on the project with regards to feasibility, alternatives and implications, being laid bare in the public domain first, according to US-based Guyanese Professor, Terrence Blackman, Head of the Mathematics Department at the Medgar Evers College in New York, USA.

He was at the time a guest on Kaieteur Radio’s Guyana’s Oil and You with Moderator, Kiana Wilburg, and pointed to likely additional costs that have not been ventilated publicly.

Repurpose Estates
Professor Blackman during the discourse noted that there is no information in the public domain with regards the selection of the site that has been proposed for the current iteration of the project at the now defunct Wales Sugar Estate, West Bank Demerara.

The academic told Wilburg that there is little information in the public domain with regards to the likely development costs for the land at Wales, the location of a former sugar estate. He pointed to the accessibility of the location for its intended use, namely the construction of power generation plant for the use of the associated gas coming from the Liza Field.

Additionally, the professor noted that there would also have to be considerations for the integration of the gas powered plant’s electricity into the current electrical grid operated by the Guyana Power and Light Company (GPL), in addition to other studies that would speak to natural disasters and the likely vulnerabilities and inherent dangers associated with such a project.

These, he said, are critical to taking a decision on any such project and said that in order to foster public support; the information behind these decisions must be clear, transparent and laid out in the public. He spoke also to the need for Social, Environmental and Financial Studies to be undertaken before any such decision can be taken for such a project.

Adamant in his support for the project, Professor Blackman said, there must be a mechanism to use the gas to be had from the Liza Field to generate energy for Guyanese, since “there are a number of very positive things that can accrue from that (but) the challenge is how do you do it.”

He expounded that absent from the public debate on the project are queries on a clear sense on other options, “What are all of the options as they relate to the pipeline?”

Professor Blackman pointed also to recent suggestions gaining traction in the public domain that proffer the use of ships to liquefy the natural gas in the Stabroek Block before landing it on shore.

Blackman questioned too “what are all of the options as it relates to cost” and asked what all the options were as it relates to the economics, “Is it going to feasible? Someone has got to be able to say.”

Location
Addressing specifically the intended Wales location, Professor Blackman stated that his first option is to support the venture for sentimental reasons, underscoring that there are entire communities that depended on the sugar estate prior to its shuttering. Blackman noted that his support is rooted in repurposing the estate “and so bringing the natural gas to this site seems like a good idea.”

He cautioned however, “I don’t know what process the current government went through in order to effect that site selection.”

This publication in January last, reported that even though Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, had disclosed to members of the media that the government has decided to land the gas-to-shore project at Wales, the administration was still to release the relevant environmental studies that support that choice.

It should be noted that previous studies, commissioned by the former administration, did not list Wales as one of the most cost-effective options for the landing of the project, which would bring gas from the Liza Phase One Project for 20 years.

he David Granger government had engaged consultancy group, Energy Narrative, in 2017, to undertake a desk study on the options, cost, economics, impacts, and key considerations of transporting and utilising natural gas from offshore Guyana for electricity generation.

Three sites had been evaluated for the landing site of the proposed pipeline — none of them included the Wales Estate.
With respect to the first option being Georgetown, the report said that this location was being considered because of the location of the Guyana Power and Light’s Sophia substation. The second option explored was Clonbrook on the East Coast of Demerara as a less busy alternative and one with potentially more space for development. The third option was New Amsterdam, owing to its location along the Berbice River and the potential to develop a new industrial site and deep-water port to support new energy-intensive industries. Its location is estimated to be near the Canefield substation. After doing its analysis of the costs, the consulting company had identified Clonbrook as the most optimal landing site for the 30 million standard cubic feet per day (MMcfd) pipeline.

Selection Criteria
Questioning the logic behind choosing the Wales Estate, Professor Blackman noted that “someone needs to say we had a site selection team; here were the following proposed sites that we decided to look into, and you know, some criteria for the sites.”

He pointed out that one would have expected that there be a costing of the development of the land at the various sites taken into consideration also taking into account the distance from the Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) Vessels in the Stabroek Block.

Speaking to the accessibility of the Wales Estate, he pointed to the state of roads and ports that would be required to service the site and suggested that kind of technical details are not in the public domain, “Is the land the right kind of land? Is it going to cost a lot of money to develop that land? How do we integrate GPL with this facility? Is that something that is easily accessible?”

These are the kinds of discussions, he posits, that should be percolating in the public, and underscored, “I would be interested in seeing the actual site selection technical details that says here is how we chose among the following six or eight sites.”

He noted that there was earlier discussion in this regard, adding, “I am sure those documents are sitting some place.”
He concluded nonetheless, that “I think the question of the land, its appropriateness, the development cost for the land; you are bringing a pipeline so one would have to think about soil characteristics, one would have to think about potential vulnerabilities; so it’s not an easy decision to make.”

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Comments

  • brandli62  On 04/12/2021 at 6:50 am

    Proper planing of the gas-to-shore project is critical for the future of Guyana. Professor Blackman addresses key points in the report above.

    1) Location of the landing site.

    In my opinion, the third option New Amsterdam near the Canefield substation makes most sense. Its location along the Berbice River and the potential to develop a new industrial site and deep-water port to support new energy-intensive industries appear to be very attractive. It’s also closer to Suriname, which may want to feed LNG to this landing site, too. Finally, it would provide economic development and opportunities to the Berbice region.

    2) Alternatives to bring gas to the shore

    Professor Blackman suggests the use of ships to liquefy the
    natural gas in the Stabroek Block before landing it on shore. In fact, liquified natural gas (LNG) tankers are being developed that allow for onboard liquefaction of gas. Such LNG tankers could be used to bring LNG to the shore in Guyana for domestic uses such as power generation or fertiliser production. Excess LNG could be exported without the need to land on shore. Sounds to me as an ideal solution.

    I hope the Guyanese government is considering the options proposed above.

  • wally n  On 04/12/2021 at 11:00 am

    Guyana must squeeze every penny it can take out of the new found wealth. Every country that has LNG has already set up storage areas, for internal, and explored bulk sales for outside customers. Conversion might cost too much, might be cheaper to build updated plants for usage, electricity, manufacturing..
    This is liquid gold, can’t believe the Government has not already done it’s home work.

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