Professor Terrence Blackman questions the landing site for a onshore gas project
Kaieteur News – The pursuit of a gas-fired project in Guyana is touted as a likely way to reduce the cost of generating electricity in the country, but the development of such a project with a pipeline of the Stabroek Block, slate to be landed in Wales on the west bank of Demerara, it must be done in a clear and transparent way.
This would mean that decisions on the project in terms of feasibility, alternatives and implications, were first put bare in the public domain, according to US Guyanese Professor Terrence Blackman, Head of the Department of Mathematics at Medgar Evers College in New York, USA.
He was at the time a guest on Guyana’s Oil and You with Kaieteur Radio Moderator Kiana Wilburg, and highlighted likely additional costs that have not been publicly ventilated.
Professor Blackman noted during the discourse that there is no public information on the selection of the proposed site for the current iteration of the project at the now defunct West Sugar Estate, West Bank Demerara.
The academic told Wilburg that there is little information in the public domain about the likely development costs for the land in Wales, the location of a former sugar estate. He highlighted the accessibility of the location for its proposed use, namely the construction of a power generation plant for the use of the associated gas coming from Cae Liza.
In addition, the professor noted that consideration would also need to be given to integrating the electricity of the gas-fired power plant into the existing electrical grid operated by the Guyana Power and Light Company (GPL), as well as other talking studies with natural disasters. and the likely weaknesses and inherent risks associated with such a project.
These, he said, are crucial to making a decision on any such project and said so to garner public support; the information behind these decisions must be clear, transparent and publicly set out. He also spoke to the need for Social, Environmental and Financial Studies to be undertaken before any such decision can be made for such a project.
Adamant said in his support of the project, Professor Blackman, that there must be a mechanism to use the gas available from Cae Liza to generate energy for Guyanese, as there are “a number of very positive things that can result of that (but) the challenge is how do you do it. ”
He explained that clear-sense inquiries on other options were absent from the public debate on the project, “What are all the options as they relate to the pipeline?”
Professor Blackman also highlighted recent suggestions to gain traction in the public domain offering the use of ships to liquefy the natural gas in the Stabroek Block before landing on shore.
Blackman also asked “what are all the options as it relates to cost” and asked what all the options were as it relates to economics, “Is it going to be practical? Someone has to be able to say. ”
Addressing specifically the intended location in Wales, Professor Blackman noted that his first option was to support the initiative for sentimental reasons, underlining that there were entire communities that relied on the sugar estate before it close. Blackman noted that his support was rooted in the re-letting of the estate “and so bringing the natural gas to this site seems a good idea.”
He warned, however, “I do not know what process the current government went through to implement that preferred site.”
He reported this announcement last January, although the Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, having revealed to members of the media that the government had decided to land the gas project in Wales, the administration was still releasing the relevant environmental studies that support that option.
It should be noted that previous studies, commissioned by the previous administration, did not list Wales as one of the most cost-effective options for landing the project, which would bring gas from the Liza Phase One Project for 20 years. David Granger’s government engaged an advisory group, Energy Narrative, in 2017, to conduct a desk study on the options, cost, economics, impacts, and key considerations of transporting and using natural gas from Guyana by sea to generate electricity.
Three sites had been evaluated for the proposed pipeline landing site – none of which included the Wales Estate.
With regard to the first option being Georgetown, the report said that this location was being considered due to the location of Guyana Power and Light’s Sophia substation. The second option explored was Clonbrook on the East Coast of Demerara as a less busy alternative and possibly with more scope for development. The third option was New Amsterdam, due to its location along the Berbice River and the potential to develop a new industrial site and deep water port to support new energy-intensive industries. Its location is estimated to be near Canefield substation. Following its cost analysis, the consulting firm had identified Clonbrook as the most optimal landing site for the standard 30 million cubic feet per day (MMcfd) pipeline.
Questioning the rationale behind choosing the Wales Estate, Professor Blackman noted that “someone needs to say we have a site selection team; these are the following proposed sites that we decided to investigate, and you know, some criteria for the sites. ”
He pointed out that one would have expected the cost of developing the land development at the various sites taking into account the distance from the Floating Production, Storage and Unloading Ships (FPSO) in the Stabroek Block.
Speaking to the accessibility of the Welsh Estate, he highlighted the condition of the roads and ports that would be needed to serve the site and suggested that the type of technical details are not public, ? Is it going to cost a lot of money to develop that land? How do we integrate GPL with this facility? Is that something that is easy to reach? ”
These are the kinds of discussions, he said, that should be flowing in the public domain, and underlined, “I would be interested to see the actual technical details on site selection that say this is how we chose among the six or eight following site. “
He noted that there had been an earlier discussion in this regard, adding, “I’m sure those documents are sitting somewhere.”
He concluded, however, “I think the question of the land, its appropriateness, is the cost of developing the land; you’re bringing a pipeline so soil features would have to be thought through, potential vulnerabilities would have to be thought through; so it’s not an easy decision to make. ”