The likelihood of Trinidad and Tobago ever supplying liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Jamaica, as was mooted at one time, seems more and more remote and probably won't happen at all.
That's because the one project known to be in train to export LNG to Caribbean markets – Roland Fisher's Caribbean LNG project at La Brea in south west Trinidad – is not targetting Jamaica, which is said to have an eventual demand for LNG of around 830,000 tonnes a year.
The important Jamaican market is apparently being left open to United States exporters, one of whom has already moved into the breach created by Trinidad & Tobago's apparent lack of interest.
This is a company called New Fortress, which will be providing the Jamaica Public Service Co's (JPSCO) 120MW Bogue generating plant on the north coast with LNG from April, 2016.
Bogue will thus become the first powergenerating facility in Jamaica, Caricom's largest English-speaking member to convert fuel oil or automotive diesel oil (ADO) to natural gas.
Bogue will actually be able to burn both fuels when it adds gas. This “back-up” provision is necessary in case LNG deliveries, which are coming in ISO containers aboard normal vessels, do not arrive in time at any point in the 10-year life of the agreement.
The Bogue plant will only be the first customer for gas in Jamaica. JPSCO's Old Harbour plant on the south coast, as well as other generators, such as Jamaica Energy Partners and the bauxite companies, are also in the running for conversion.
That Trinidad & Tobago should not be able to access such an attractive, new and growing LNG market in its own Caricom region, is unfortunate but Caribbean LNG has chosen to set its sights on the Eastern Caribbean and, in any case, Jamaica is going to have multiple suitors for its conversion out of fuel oil/diesel which will make the competition for business fierce.
US suppliers of gas liquids such as propane and ethane, which can also be burned in power stations, are also avidly eyeing Jamaica.
JPSCO had actually toyed with the idea of those two for Bogue but eventually settled on LNG.
The company's Senior Vice President for Generation and Project Development, John Kistie, points out that “JPSCO evaluated both those options as well as the risks associated with delivery and operation but when considering the global availability and supply mechanisms for each of these fuels that are available to Jamaica, made the decision that LNG provided the best long-term pricing and lowest operating risk.”
But if not for any JPSCO plant, ethane still seems likely to secure a foothold in Jamaica via the bauxite sector, since the largest bauxite company, Russia's UC Rusal, is working with US company America Ethane, to provide the currently closed Alpart bauxite operation with ethane as a means of getting it restarted.
Ethane is said to be cheaper than LNG and supplies are readily available from the US.
Another generation company, Jamaica Private Power Co. (JPPC), points out that the use of natural gas liquids (NGLs) in power generation in Jamaica “is all part of the government's desire to have a diversified grid, with various forms of gas in play.”