|Converting to gas: Antonio Guiteras power plant|
By CubaStandard.com, November 12, 2011
In what is expected to be a $25 million project, the Basic Industries Ministry is close to signing a contract to convert the Antonio Guiteras power plant to natural gas, foreign suppliers say.
The new plans for the 330-mw Guiteras, Cuba’s largest power plant, come barely a year after a $5 million overhaul of the heavy oil-fueled thermoelectric plant at the port of Matanzas.
Other power plants slated to switch at least partly to gas are the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes plant in Cienfuegos, and the Este Habana plant near Havana.
The conversion is part of a larger project to switch aging thermoelectric power plants in central-western Cuba from domestic heavy-oil to gas. In 2003, all thermoelectric plants in Cuba were converted to burn the sulphur-heavy oil produced onshore in Cuba; however, the low-quality fuel has put the aging power plants under strain and produced high levels of wear-and-tear. Meanwhile, natural gas prices have dropped worldwide, as a result of a boom in controversial shale gas extraction, making conversions attractive. Also, Cuba expects to boost accompanying-gas production once offshore oil is found in the Gulf of Mexico.
Central to the conversion project is the Venezuelan- and Chinese-funded construction of a 2 million-tons-a-year regasification plant at the port of Cienfuegos. Eighty-two percent of basic engineering on the project has been completed, according to Venezuelan partner PdVSA, and construction is scheduled for completion in late 2014. Sixty-four percent of that plant’s gas production will be consumed by Cuban power plants. The plant, designed to process liquid gas arriving on tankers from Venezuela and other countries, will be operational in early 2015, according to plans of the Cuban-Venezuelan joint venture that will operate it.
To supply Antonio Guiteras and other thermoelectric plants with gas, a 312-kilometer (194-mile) pipeline linking the regasification facility with the power plants must first be built. Construction of the pipeline is expected to be completed by 2014.
Energas, a Canadian-Cuban joint venture, is operating two combined-cycle power plants along the Northern coast near Matanzas. The Boca de Jaruco plant has recently suffered shortages of gas supplied by CubaPetróleo from a near-shore oil field nearby.