Expert urges natural gas substitute for Heavy Fuel Oil

– says clean, reliable & cheap energy would be a “godsend” for Guyana

While there has been talk about bringing natural gas onshore, there is no clarity on the logistics or even how much gas ExxonMobil will provide to Guyana. According to one oil and gas expert, the importance of natural gas to Guyana cannot be overstated.

Energy expert Robert McNally

This was according to Robert McNally, an energy expert and the President of Washington-based Rapidan Energy Group, during a recent engagement with the media. He noted that natural gas would be a much cleaner substitute for the Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) currently being used by the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) to generate power.
“Guyana generates much of its electricity from Heavy Fuel Oil production. Natural gas is a much cleaner source of electric power generation. I know some of the gas is needed for reinjection, but hopefully there will be enough gas where it can be brought on shore and it can replace Heavy Fuel Oil,” he said.
According to McNally, this can offer the country an abundant, reliable and cleaner source of power. McNally noted that having studied the oil market, Guyana also being able to cut its electricity expenses would be a “godsend” for the country.
“I’m an oil expert. I studied the oil market. And I think the oil market and what Guyana has found is miraculous. What’s even more miraculous is electricity. Because if oil is the lifeblood of the global civilisation, electricity is the nervous system.
“We cannot function without electricity. I understand you have very expensive power too. Ample and cheap power for Guyana, that would be another godsend for the country, if the gas can be brought on shore at some point,” he noted.
Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson had previously announced that there were plans to establish a 188-megawatt power plant. There are also plans to land the pipeline necessary for the transfer of the gas at a site on the East Coast of Demerara.
Part of a US$20 million loan that Guyana had signed with the World Bank had gone towards funding a study to examine the merits of bringing natural gas on shore for the local energy market.
Meanwhile, Exxon has said that around 30 to 35 million cubic feet of natural gas would be required for the gas-to-shore project. Recently-released data from Norwegian research company Rystad Energy had indicated that less than 20 per cent of the 1.8 Billion Barrels of Oil Equivalent (BOE) discovered last year was gas. The Haimara discovery made by Exxon last year was found to have 207 feet of high-quality gas condensate sandstone reservoirs.
Several persons have already championed the merits of bringing gas to shore, including US-based energy consultant Edwin Callender. At an energy forum in June of last year, Callender had noted that in a country like Guyana where power outages were a significant problem, natural gas energy production could help to modernise the country.
“People who live in Guyana know that electricity is a problem, and it is a problem because of an old system, but it is also a problem because of the fuel source. Bunker C – that is very old and antiquated, the power plants are not efficient in any way, shape, or form. And so, you have an opportunity now to bring natural gas on shore and have gas-fired power generation and that will open a whole lot of opportunities for the country,” the energy consultant had said.
Natural gas, while not a renewable source of energy, is composed mostly of methane and small amounts of other hydrocarbons. Its emissions contain a significantly lower level of carbon dioxide, when compared to oil.
In fact, natural gas, when used for power generation, also emits fewer sulphur and nitrogen oxides, making it the cleanest of all fossil fuels. As such, Government has previously said it could use natural gas to transition to a ‘green state’.
Already, private companies like Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) have begun the transition. It was only last week that the company commissioned Guyana’s first Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) gasification terminal.