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General Electric to retrofit Bogue power plant

Published:Wednesday | June 24, 2015 | 12:00 AM
File Dr Vincent Lawrence, head of ESET.
File The JPS power station in Bogue, Montego Bay.

Dr Vincent Lawrence, head of the Electricity Sector Enterprise Team (ESET), says the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) will conclude an agreement with General Electric for the retrofitting of its Bogue power plant in Montego Bay to be fired by liquefied natural gas.

Lawrence said the expected supply cost for LNG to the plant is US$14 per million BTUs, which is about half the US$27 unit cost to supply the plant with diesel, he added.

"We are very excited," said Lawrence on Tuesday at his third press conference as chairman of ESET - a special body created to execute projects aimed at reforming Jamaica's electricity market. "We are satisfied that the project is on target for the first quarter of 2016."

His announcement puts to rest speculation that JPS was still considering a flirtation with propane as an interim fuel before moving to LNG.

The contract being finalised with General Electric is the second major announcement for the 115MW Bogue project, following last week's disclosure in a market filing by JPS that it had hired Fortress Energy, another American company, to supply gas for the plant.

Last night, JPS said that General Electric would retrofit the plant for LNG, while Fortress would develop the regasification and storage facility. Fortress will also supply the gas.

JPS says the deal with General Electric is valued at US$15 million. However, the power utility was mum on the Fortress transaction, nor would it disclose the price at which Bogue would supply power to the grid under the partnership.

Previously, the company had floated US$80 million as an indicative cost for the full project, but that was before it found partners for the jobs.

Lawrence also announced Tuesday that JPS has got 12 expressions of interest through its request for proposals in June for development of a 190MW plant in Old Harbour, St Catherine, each of which has been issued with material to prepare for bidding on the contract.

Proposals have come in from Jamaica's state-owned refinery, Petrojam, Royal Dutch Shell, British Petroleum, Clean Core and Fortress Energy. Clean Core was runner-up to Fortress Energy on the Bogue bids.

The plans for Old Harbour have grown more ambitious since the project was first mooted. Now ESET sees itself as the fulcrum for the development of a regional gas hub for the Caribbean that was first discussed in Jamaica during talks with US Energy Secretary Dr Ernest Moniz during President Barack Obama's official visit in early April.

"Jamaica is trying to become the hub for gas distribution in the region. It is one of the things we are very interested in," said Lawrence.

"In the request for proposals, we have requested that they provide a perspective on how Jamaica could serve the region. That is one of the things we will be assessing," he said.

Discussions about such a hub flowed from a study done by Inter-American Development Bank on the regional demand for natural gas and the economics around consistent supply.

Bogue is being converted from automotive diesel oil to LNG. Lawrence said JPS had also looked at propane and ethane as fuel options, but finally decided to convert to LNG immediately.

"They have had meetings with General Electric and GE is on track to carry out conversion. The contract is to be signed early July," said Lawrence.

The plant conversion will take 26 weeks, or just about six months, from the award of contract.

JPS confirmed the timeline of the first quarter of 2016 for the conversion to be completed.

Lawrence said Fortress will ship gas to the plant weekly from its Miami, Florida, facility to the port in Montego Bay.

For the pipeline to be built by Fortress from the port to the Bogue plant, the preliminary design, engineering, agreements with the Port Authority of Jamaica and authorisation from NEPA are being pursued, the ESET chairman said.