LNG projects in electric power and mining companies exceed US$5,000 million

01-Oct-2012 La Tercera – News
– Construction of new LNG floating terminals and expansion of already existing ones will call for US$3,100 million
– Endesa and Colbún have forecasted investments in gas-based plants for Taltal, Quintero and Candelaria
– Codelco considers new gas plant of at least 250 MW capacity to be emplaced in the north region while BHP reshapes Kelar project to work with LNG instead of coal

Natural gas is certainly coming back and strongly coming back to the energy matrix. After the many coal-based projects that were ruled out and judicialization, they are also dealing with, i.e. Castilla (MPX and E. ON) and Punta Alcalde (Endesa) electric power and mining companies are studying to generate power from gas as an alternative because of its reduced environmental impact. This was a key issue dealt with during the meeting held by Government and business world representatives last Saturday.

As of today some projects are under study and development stage for more than US$5,000 million. These projects include new regassing terminals, expansion of existing terminals, thermoelectric complex refurbishing, and new power plants construction.

Currently there are four projects being evaluated to construct floating regassing terminals that would require investments in the neighborhood of US$3,100 million. Gas Atacama – owned by Endesa and Southern Cross – is working on the installation of a terminal in Mejillones that will offer a regassing capacity of about five million cubic meters (with the possibility to increase up to 10 million cubic meters), which is expected to start operations in 2015. Estimated investment amounts to US$350 million approximately.

Likewise, a Gener-Colbún consortium is assessing installation of a similar terminal in Quintero. Environmental study will be filed in 2013 and construction is being negotiated with Swedish Hoegh GNL. Last May, General Manager of CAP, Jaime Charles, indicated that they are considering to install a LNG terminal in the north of the country which is expected to be operating in 2018. Investment decision is to be made in 2013.

A floating terminal would be installed in VIII Region for Octopus project with a US$2,000 million investment to generate 1,100 MW. This project is lead by a Chilean-US consortium made up by Andes Mining and Gasoduct Innergy, and by US Cheniere Energy with headquarters in Houston and currently operating LNG in the North American country. The company has shown interest in expanding their operations because of the huge reserves of shale gas existing in U.S.A

Capacity Increase

LNG terminals that are currently operating are also improving their capacity. Quintero will invest US$30 million in a new tank that is expected to be working in 2014. On the other side, in the Suez and Codelco controlled Mejillones terminal a ground-based tank is being constructed which will require a US$200 million investment and is expected to be working in 2014.

For electric power sector, Endesa and Colbún are running surveys to refurbish Taltal, Quintero and Candelaria complexes (two 133 MW units and one 137 MW unit) from open cycle to closed cycle LNG application. Some sources close to Endesa have stated that investments would be around US$250 million per plant.

Finally, two of main mining companies will develop LNG-based power plants. Codelco is considering to build a power plant in the north of country with a 250 MW capacity (with possibility to be upgraded to 500 MW). Investment has not been defined yet, but it is estimated to be at least US$300 million. Meanwhile, BHP, Escondida controller, will be reshaping Kelar coal project (US$800 million, 500 MW capacity).

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