By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
THE country’s missed LNG possibility more than a decade ago may have been a blessing in disguise, according to experts, who noted the radical shift in US export trends since that bid was shelved.
Markus Hector, general manager of Shell’s LNG Market Development, suggested use for the 76-mile pipeline would now be obsolete as most import terminals in the United States have been converted for export use.
He was responding to questions by The Tribune during a liquefied natural gas (LNG) workshop hosted by Shell at its Western Supply and Trading Office last week.
“That project was very different a decade ago,” Mr Hector said, “that was a time when the United States was still an importer and the idea was there at that time to bring an LNG terminal here and actually pipe the gas via pipeline to the US.
“That would have been a very very large terminal, basically designed for the consumption of Florida, so that would have been a very large and expensive pipeline.”
The AES Corporation pitched plans to build an LNG import terminal on Ocean Cay near Bimini some 15 years ago.
The project included a 76-mile pipeline to transport re-gasified LNG to Fort Lauderdale in southern Florida, with AES even modifying its plans to offer to supply LNG to the Bahamas Electricity Corporation.
Both Tractebel and El Paso Corporation proposed similar plans to AES, using terminals in Grand Bahama, but these were also doomed due to the absence of Bahamian regulatory approvals.
Former Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) chairman Leslie Miller strongly advocated for LNG during his tenure as minister of trade and industry in the first Christie administration.
Last month, he urged the government owned utility provider to “sort out” its Clifton power plant woes “sooner rather than later” arguing that the country’s energy costs would now likely match Florida’s had his liquefied natural gas (LNG) plan been embraced.
At the LNG workshop last week, Mr Hector said: “Now a lot has changed entirely in terms of the US becoming a massive natural gas producer and LNG exporter.
“Because the United States is already exporting LNG already today, not just for the Caribbean but for large customers around the world… that infrastructure, the massive fridges now available in the US. Now basically to transport that already liquid LNG to The Bahamas is far more efficient than if you were trying to build a pipeline for that relatively small amount of gas that The Bahamas will be using so that’s kinda the landscape, how it’s different.”
In November 2018, the country was said to be one step closer to lower energy bills and more stable electricity generation with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Bahamas Power and Light and Shell North America for an integrated LNG gas-to-power project.
The project, which features a 220-250 megawatt (MW) power plant, is not slated to be completed until the early 2020s.