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Abengoa says Old Harbour project will employ hundreds

Published:Wednesday | December 2, 2015 | 12:00 AM
The oil-fired JPS power plant in Old Harbour Bay, St Catherine is to be converted to LNG.

Spanish firm Abengoa SA has revealed the value of the upgrade and employ-ment prospects for the 190MW power plant project amid pre-bankruptcy filings in its home market.

"The contract for the plant, which will be powered by natural gas and cooled by seawater, is worth more than US$200 million," said Abengoa in a release.

The engineering and renewable energy firm was selected as preferred bidder by Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), and the parties are in the process of finalising the contract for the LNG-fired power plant. JPS has said the full project cost would be closer to US$300 million.

Abengoa has about four months in which to secure deals with its creditors and restructure its debts if it is to escape full bankruptcy. JPS has said it is not ready to give up on its preferred bidder just yet, but is monitoring the situation.

Abengoa said it will be responsible for the design, engineering and construction work of the plant that will replace an existing fuel-oil facility and is expected to "create between 300 and 500 jobs during the construction phase".

JPS wants to decommission the existing fuel-oil plant and move to a natural gas facility to create a cleaner, efficient and more reliable source of power, added Abengoa.

The more than 40-year-old Old Harbour plant remains one of the least energy efficient in the island and its upgrade would form part of the Jamaican Government's drive to increase cleaner forms of fuel. Jamaica aims to increase renewable energy reliance to 20 per cent of the energy output within the medium term.

SEAWATER COOLING SYSTEM

"The plant will use a seawater cooling system that returns the warm water without adversely impacting the environment. Abengoa's design will use the existing infrastructure as much as possible, requiring less power and improving the overall output of the plant," said the Spanish firm in late November, adding that the project would extend Abengoa's experience in turnkey combined cycle projects to the Jamaican market.

The company informed that it filed for insolvency protection on November 25 before the Mercantile Courts of Seville. The company also indicated that it would continue negotiations with its creditors with the objective of reaching an agreement that ensures the company's financial viability, "under the protection of Article 5 of the Spanish Insolvency Law".

The company recorded a €194 million net loss attributable to its parent over nine months ending September 2015 on revenues of €4.87 billion. It holds €6.2 billion in total debt while its earnings before interest tax and amortisation totalled €1.3 billion or 4.5 times net leverage.

Abengoa's other major combined-cycle projects include the 640MW plant in Centro Morelos, Mexico, and the 440MW combined cycle plant in Portland, Oregon, United States, currently under construction. More recently, Abengoa was awarded two combined cycle plants in Mexico - Nuevo Pemex 680MW, and Norte III, 924MW.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com