Although no definite decision has been taken on bringing natural gas on-shore through pipelines, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson says that sometime next month the government will select a site for the proposed pipelines to land.
Patterson at a press conference yesterday confirmed that sites in Regions 3, 4 and 6 are currently being looked at. A government team comprising representatives from the Ministries of Business, Finance and Public Infrastructure, the Guyana Power and Light (GPL), the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA), the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission and the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) has been meeting with ExxonMobil representatives to review the sites.
“The location can only be narrowed down. It would be irresponsible to say that now because it can create enhanced anticipation by residents,” he said, while emphasizing the transitional nature of the project.
“I wanted that to be known because that is a project which is a transitional project,” Patterson said. He explained that the primary concern is moving the recovered gas onshore to have it converted from natural gas to electricity, which can then be used to supplement the national grid.
According to Patterson, following the identification of the location, technical studies will be conducted which will be used to help in making the decision on whether the project will move forward.
“We are not out of the woods but we do have a plan. So that selection should be made final in January,” Patterson said, while pointing out that after the selection is made, other technical studies will follow. He identified the end of the first quarter of 2018 as a possible timeline for completion of the technical studies.
The minister explained that the government is being guided by studies and said that the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is currently being engaged to do further studies for the entire spectrum of natural gas development-including other options going forward. The Government of Japan is also currently doing a study for the country and when all the studies are finished they will be made available, Patterson indicated.
When questioned on whether ExxonMobil or another company would be contracted to administer the project, Patterson said that the Government has not ruled out the idea of contracting someone else to run the pipeline.
“When we determine where we will go, there will be several aspects such as the distance away from residents, its environmental challenges and so then we shall move further with the study,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Patterson also conceded that the country still has some challenges in the electricity sector but offered assurances that measures are being taken to help address them.
In addition to using the natural gas for electricity, Patterson also floated the idea of having larger developments such as an industrial park, which the Ministry of Business is working on, and a LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) plant.