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Panama becomes 42nd LNG importer on Costa Norte terminal start




By Mike Corkhill

Petroleumworld 06 19 2018

Panama has joined the LNG importers club as its 42nd member following the delivery of a commissioning cargo to the Costa Norte terminal in Colon close to the Caribbean entrance of the Panama Canal. The shipment, which was supplied by Engie and is being discharged by 154,500 m3 Provalys, had been loaded earlier at the Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana on the US Gulf coast.

Costa Norte is a 50.1/49.9% joint venture between AES Panama, an affiliate of the US electric utility AES, and Inversiones Bahia. The terminal, which features a 180,000 m3 storage tank, has been built as part of a US$1Bn LNG-to-power project.

About 25% of the terminal’s 1.5 mta of LNG regasification capacity will be used to supply the new 380 MW AES Colon combined-cycle power plant that is the anchor customer of the project. Both the LNG terminal and the power plant have been built by Posco E&C, a Korean construction company.

A wide range of other customers are expected use the facility, including other Panamanian utilities, LNG bunker suppliers and companies in Central America seeking small-scale purchases of LNG.

In May 2017 AES and Engie agreed to jointly market and sell LNG from Costa Norte to third parties in Central America. On top of the 0.4 mta of LNG that Engie is contracted to deliver over 10 years for use by the AES Colon power plant, it will provide another 0.7 mta to the terminal from its global supply portfolio. Engie is expected to source the agreed volumes from the Cameron LNG export project, another Louisiana facility, when it commences operations in 2019.

To facilitate small-scale deliveries of LNG from its storage tank, the Costa Norte terminal has been designed as a hub facility, with the ability to fill road tankers at two loading bays and to reload small gas carriers such as LNG bunker vessels (LNGBVs). It is anticipated that there will be opportunities to use an LNGBV to fuel LNG-powered vessels at Colon, prior to or following Panama Canal transits.

Provalys is expected to remain at the Costa Norte jetty for at least four weeks, providing LNG to test the terminal’s cryogenic systems and regasification facilities. Commissioning procedures will be followed by the start of commercial operations shortly.

Panama is the second country to start importing LNG this year, following Bangladesh in recent months. The Costa Norte terminal augments the presence of AES in Caribbean LNG operations; the company also operates the 1.5 mta Andres import facility in the Dominican Republic.


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Story by Mike Corkhill from LNG World Shipping 06 18 2018

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