Bahía Blanca (correspondent) .- If the regasification vessel Exemplar returns in the middle of the year, as it was anticipated by its owner, Excelerate, it can hardly be done at the site from where President Mauricio Macri said goodbye last October. On February 3, the floating natural gas liquefaction unit, Caribbean FLNG, is expected at the dock of Compañia Mega, which will do the inverse process of regasification that took place during a decade in that mooring of the Bahía Blanca port. The barge, chartered by a ten-year agreement between YPF and the Belgian Exmar, already began at the end of 2018 its long journey of 45 days to the country and will begin production during the second quarter of the year.
Travel aboard the heavy-duty transport vessel Forte, flying the flag of Malta, which sailed in late December from Shanghai and this Thursday sailed through the waters of the Indian Ocean. According to the Environmental Impact Study (EIA) presented by both companies to the Provincial Organism for Sustainable Development (OPDS) of Buenos Aires, the unit will arrive at its destination “already equipped to start operations”.
Last Monday at 14 o’clock the deadline opened by the OPDS to raise objections to the project that will require about 60 days of tune-up and take advantage of the infrastructure already installed with which operated the regasifier until October.
Once it arrives at the port, the Forte will be accompanied by tug boats and the barge, renamed here as Tango FLNG, moored to the Mega Company wharf. The maneuver will be similar to the one carried out since May 2008 when the Belgian ship Excelsior arrived, the first of the four regasifiers of the Excelerate fleet.
According to the EIA, some 40 workers will intervene in the construction on land of the Amina plant where the gas from Vaca Muerta will be pre-treated before being injected into the barge. On board it will be purified, liquefied and stored, before transferring it, as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to methane tankers that arrive to transport it to its destination.
The initial plan contemplates the export of some 500,000 tons per year of LNG, according to the processing capacity of 2.5 million cubic meters a day that the barge that comes on the trip has. It is expected to reach up to eight ships per year, although during 2019 the process will start at a slower pace.
According to the operating forecasts of YPF and Exmar, “the barge will be able to start the adaptation operations and the start-up exercises to start producing between May and the first days of winter.” Only once the peak of more rigorous temperatures has passed, the floating unit can begin to use its full liquefaction capacity.
YPF and Exmar report that during the winter, when the priority is the provision of gas to the national residential and industrial demand, the barge will be idle. It would be the opportunity for a regasifier to eventually enter its place, although the maneuver is considered not viable from a logistic and economic point of view. “If he comes back, I do not think it’s Bahia Blanca,” said the mayor of Bahia, Héctor Gay, who last October posed for the farewell photo of the regasifier with Mauricio Macri and Javier Iguacel.
After the publication of Clarín, from the Secretariat of Energy clarified that the plan of operations for the winter season “does not include the provision of gas by the ship that was anchored in the port of Bahía Blanca”. However, they did not rule out that the boat is sued by some of the electricity generators that opt for gas instead of fuel oil for their plants, as Gabriela Aguilar, the CEO of Excelerate, put it.