By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
SHELL North America's proposed multi-fuel power plant for New Providence will provide "natural synergies" for liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunkering, a senior executive says.
Mark Regis, Shell's country chair for the English and Dutch Caribbean (excluding Trinidad and Tobago), said that while the energy giant's immediate sights were set on the LNG-led power plant, for which it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) on Friday, it sees "potential" in LNG bunkering in The Bahamas.
Mr Regis said Shell already has an agreement with at least one cruise line which calls on The Bahamas, Carnival Cruise Line. Last November, Carnival announced that it had signed an agreement with Shell North America to supply two new ships with LNG. Those ships, scheduled to debut after 2020, will likely be the first fully-powered LNG ships in North America.
"We see some natural synergies between putting in this new LNG infrastructure with bunkering in new fuels like LNG bunkering. We do see that there is an opportunity," said Mr Regis. "Shell would be interested in any new business opportunities that would arise.
"We do see that synergy between the LNG supply for power and, since you're creating new berthing facilities and marine infrastructure, it is fairly easy to add on LNG bunkering to that. We do see the business opportunities with working with the cruise industry. We do have strategic relationships already, and certainly one that operates in The Bahamas."
Mr Regis added: "The International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) 2020 rules will require cruise liners to change out their fuel systems, and to use cleaner fuels and, therefore, LNG as a cleaner burning fuel would be a great option. It adds optionally to The Bahamas' existing bunkering business."
Back in April, Shell North America's was confirmed as the successful bidder out of 19 companies considered by BPL's board for the new power plant to supply New Providence's energy needs.
When asked why Shell had gotten into the mix, Mr Regis said: "Shell is always looking for new markets for its various energy products. The Bahamas is nicely located, fairly close to our North American and eastern seaboard supply markets for LNG, but it can also be supplied from the south, from Trinidad and Tobago, where we have a large interest in the Atlantic LNG. We are pleased to be partners with the Government of The Bahamas as it looks to transition from other types of fuels."
Mr Regis, when pressed, said it was too early to offer any specifics on the new power plant such as cost, timelines, and likely sale price of LNG back to BPL. "It's very early stages. We need to look at the project in its totality and make a determination. At this time we couldn't say anything about cost," he said.
BPL's chairman, Dr Donovan Moxey, said the targeted timeline for the plant to be operational is 2022. The signing of the MOU on Friday follows months of speculation, as the deal was initially slated for signing months ago, but was reportedly sidelined by a BPL boardroom battle that resulted in all directors on the former board resigning or being removed.