Trinidad and Tobago's apparent inability to commence the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Caribbean markets, as has been mooted for many years, is beginning to frustrate entrepreneur and gas liquids trader, George Naime, who has been waiting impatiently for some time to throw himself into that business with gusto.
He is anxious to supply small LNG loads to those states in the region that still wish to convert out of fuel oil and diesel, particularly for electricity generation, despite the fall in the oil price which makes oil-derived fuels much less expensive.
Mr. Naime is well aware that oil prices are extraordinarily difficult to predict and could rise again at any time so gas may still have a ready market.
He is also keen to export methanol, which can also be used in power generation plants. Trinidad and Tobago is, of course, already a major exporter of large LNG and methanol loads but to the international market.
The requirements of Caribbean customers have been deemed too small to interest the likes of LNG exporters BP, Shell and, until its takeover by the latter, BG.
Hence the entry of Naime's BEN LNG company and Roland Fisher's Caribbean LNG into the small parcels business. So far, there have been no positive results, though Caribbean LNG is still pursuing its plan to sell LNG to the French departments of Martinique and Guadeloupe.
Naime is under no illusions about the magnitude of the task despite the existence of a functioning LNG export terminal at Point Fortin. He concedes “A new natural gas fuel supply chain will have to be developed and rolled out from scratch if we are to supply these small load parcels.”
So would a methanol supply chain in the region. Naime has dubbed his methanol-based fuel methalene, which he says is slightly different from pure methanol, since it has a different product specification of 95% purity, compared with 99.5% for chemical grade methanol.
He contends however, there is a potential market for this in the region because it is possible to “Offer attractive long-term Henry Hubindexed supply contracts to power generation companies.”
What's more, Finnish company Wartsila's power generators are the “most common in the region” and, he insists, “can easily be converted to burn methanol once the necessary retrofits are installed.”