An October 19th OilNow article titled: ‘LNG Company targets big benefits from Guyana gas-to-power plan’, makes a case for developing in-country liquefied natural gas (LNG) production capacity, in alignment, the LNG company states, GoG plans to introduce natural gas (NG)-to-power and countrywide pipeline utility gas service. This raises an initial question regarding the considerations underlying such a crucial decision to introduce national power and utility gas sourced only on NG, especially since fired NG emits 60% of carbon dioxide of coal in power generation, which runs counter to the nation’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) which has enjoyed bipartisan support for decades. Before proceeding with such a costly and archaic power and utility gas infrastructure based on a singular dirty fuel, it’s felt GoG is obligated to address a few fundamentals.
Firstly, given the known volatility of the global oil and gas sector, Guyana as a fledgling petrostate, needs to follow the proven practice of programming multiple fuels in a flexible national energy-mix to assure stable long-term economic activity so that in the event the availability of a major fuel is diminished, the nation can seamlessly switch to alternative fuel(s).
In the event of a severe downturn in oil & gas that forces market prices below breakeven, production operations will be routinely suspended in Guyana, only to be resuscitated after prices again transcend their respective break evens. Under such a scenario the suspension of production in the Guyana oil fields would also cutoff crude gas supply to onshore natural gas (NG) refineries and downstream power and pipeline utility gas distribution grid, inducing economic crisis.
Should we opt for a smart refinery that complies with LCDS, is supportive of broad development and decarbonized energy exports?
To offset the certainty of periodic loss of offshore crude NG supply, luckily, in addition to stockpiling crude NG at an on-shore refinery complex, for lengthy stoppages, the nation can tap into its estimated 18.3 billion tonnes of fuel peat (pre-coal), in an environmentally-sound fashion, that’s conveniently located in the 100-mile long inter-coastal zone of the Northwest District, from Suddie area to the Guyana-Venezuelan border. By situating a dual NG-peat refinery atop this peat deposit in the Suddie area (See https://www.setvision.org/sg_petrochems.html), with crude NG piped to this refinery from offshore sources, GoG would prevent recurring national energy crises by enabling a flexible energy-mix for the nation. Once the NG supply is cut in a periodic downturn, the refinery would seamlessly switch to total dependence on fuel peat feed to
continue supply of cleanly-burning dimethyl ether (DME) gas to the nation’s pipeline gas grid and decarbonized gigawatt electrical service. As a flexible NG-peat energy provider, the contemplated refinery will sit at the heart of Guyana’s general development, furnishing, for a long time to come:
1) decarbonized/zero-emission giga-watt electrical power to drive broad in-country irrigation and agribusiness, mining/metallurgical;
2) countrywide DME utility gas (See https://www.setvision.org/dme-recycled-product.html);
3) a range of petrochemical products including PVC and HDPE (high-density polyethylene) pellets as inputs to large-scale in-country pipe extrusion;
4) a variety of fertilizers and livestock feeds (See https://www.setvision.org/ec-agri-bus-recycles.html);
5) low-cost DME refrigerant supporting residential and commercial food refrigeration in the agribusiness sector, also, DME is a low-cost, cleanly-burning alternative to costly imported diesel fuel for use to power trucks, railway locomotives and/or mining and heavy construction equipment;
6) bulk cement produced in-country from peat ash and sea-lime, cuts costly cement imports while accelerating infrastructure development (See https://www.setvision.org/sg_petrochems.html); and
7) to boost energy export income, Guyana should produce and export liquefied hydrogen and DME to the EU and Far Eastern destinations that are massively shifting to decarbonized economies and away from traditional oil & gas products.
DME is a cleanly-burning alternative fuel which can be produced from both NG and fuel peat through gasification producing synthesis gas (H2 and CO). It contains no sulfur or nitrogen. It is not corrosive to any metal and not harmful to humans. DME is a colourless gas at an ambient condition and easily liquefied under light pressure. Since NG emits more than 60% of the CO2 of fired coal fuel, by reforming NG to DME, and then consuming DME locally in Guyana, climate change mitigation is greatly facilitated.