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Lloyds List: Trinidad and Tobago cuts a dash in world’s top five exporters

EXTRACT: Atlantic has hired international consultant Shell Global Solutions to come up with a list of operating parameters for which the company must aim, encompassing such activities as gas conversion, turbine performance, cooling rate, employee performance, safety and so on. ‘It is a very complex and comprehensive piece of work that Shell will be doing,’ the chief executive says.

THE ARTICLE

Islands likely to retain their position as biggest supplier to energy-hungry US market, writes David Renwick, Lloyds List: Published: Apr 18, 2007

WITH the Atlantic LNG Co’s 5.2m-tonne train four now up to its full intake of 800m cu ft per day after some initial difficulties with gas supply and the start-up challenges associated with a plant of that size, Trinidad and Tobago has regained its coveted position as fifth largest LNG exporter in the world at 15.1m tonnes a year.

This puts it behind only Qatar, Indonesia, Algeria and Malaysia in the burgeoning trade after only seven years in the business.

With Australia and Nigeria both planning big additions to their LNG capacity, the twin-island Caribbean nation is not expected to hold that position for long.

But it is almost certain to maintain another achievement for some time to come the biggest LNG supplier to the energy-hungry US market.

Atlantic met 77% of US demand for LNG last year.

And Atlantic’s management are also convinced Trinidad and Tobago will not be losing its other record anytime soon, that of builder of the world’s cheapest LNG trains.

A figure they are fond of quoting is the $197 a tonne fully built-out cost of installing the company’s four trains at the once sleepy oil town of Point Fortin in southwest Trinidad.

‘This is unlikely to be bettered because the price of materials to build LNG plants has gone through the roof,’ says Oscar Prieto, former president of BG Egypt, appointed chief executive of Atlantic last September.

Mr Prieto is now turning his attention to operational benchmarks, with the in- tention of ensuring that Trinidad and Tobago can lead the industry in that area as well.

For its first six years the Atlantic complex at Point Fortin was virtually a permanent construction site, with train one in 1999 being quickly followed by trains two, three and four.

Now Mr Prieto says he wants to be able to point to other performance achievements as well, since ‘with such a huge amount of LNG capacity coming on stream around the world, Atlantic must remain competitive’.

Atlantic has hired international consultant Shell Global Solutions to come up with a list of operating parameters for which the company must aim, encompassing such activities as gas conversion, turbine performance, cooling rate, employee performance, safety and so on.

‘It is a very complex and comprehensive piece of work that Shell will be doing,’ the chief executive says.

It is also important for Atlantic to operate as efficiently as possible because of its key role in the monetisation of Trinidad and Tobago’s precious gas reserves.

Since train four, the gas intake at Point Fortin has leapt up to 2.5bn cu ft per day, 60% of all the gas used in the country on a daily basis.

Since inception Atlantic has liquefied 2.67trn cu ft of gas ‘a huge amount, enough to meet all the electricity needs of Russia, population 144m, for two and a half years’, Mr Prieto points out.

The gas requirement of all four trains has been estimated at about 17.8trn cu ft over 20 years, an intimidating amount when it is considered that the islands proven gas reserves stand at no more than 18.7trn cu ft, according to Energy Ministry figures, with probable reserves at 9.02trn cu ft.

Since consultants such as Ryder Scott have put what they call ‘identified exploratory resources’ at another 29trn cu ft, no one is unduly worried that there will not be enough gas to meet those 20-year contracts.

In fact, the Trinidad and Tobago government even went ahead in March and signed a memorandum of understanding with BG Group to ‘determine the feasi- bility of expanding the LNG industry’ through a fifth train.

This is at present coyly known as ‘train X’ because its ownership is going to be different from that of the first four, in which BP, BG and RepsolYPF are the principal shareholders.

The study will look in particular at how Trinidad and Tobago itself can find a niche in the LNG value train post-liquefaction including ship-ping, regasification and marketing.

 

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