Excelerate Mulls Argentina LNG Exports
US specialist LNG shipowner Excelerate Energy said September 10 it inked a deal with an Argentinian company to assess the viability of a LNG export plant, to be supplied with shale gas.
Excelerate and Transportadora de Gas del Sur (TGS) executed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to jointly collaborate on the assessment of a liquefaction project in the city of Bahia Blanca, Argentina.
The two partners have been critical players in the growth of the Argentine energy industry: all the LNG imported and regasified into the country is through Excelerate's two floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs), each with regas capacity of 500mn ft³/d; the first opened in 2008 at Bahia Blanca was South America's first LNG import terminal, and was followed by the other in 2011 at at Escobar.
Successful development of Argentina's shale gas reserves has now resulted in a potential excess of natural gas during the summer months, says Excelerate, adding that the project with TGS aims at studying the technical and commercial viability of liquefying and exporting natural gas during the summer season (October to March in the southern hemisphere) and allowing a more sustainable development of shale gas resources while reducing Argentina's annual natural gas net import needs. Located in Buenos Aires province, Bahia Blanca is some 650km southwest of Argentina's capital city.
The study is expected to be completed end-2018, at which time Excelerate and TGS will share the results with government and industry officials and decide on further actions towards project implementation.
Excelerate's chief commercial officer Daniel Bustos said the project could "significantly enhance Argentina's capacity to maximize the use of local resources by allowing a more predictable development of shale gas production while reducing the overall costs of importing LNG." Such a project, if developed, may become Excelerate's first floating LNG (FLNG) project; it operates FSRUs (floating import terminals) in several countries.
TGS is currently the largest transporter of natural gas in Argentina and operates 5,706 miles of pipe across the country with a maximum capacity of 2.8bn ft3/d, the most extensive in Latin America by length, delivering three-fifths of gas transported in Argentina. Its system connects the Neuquen, San Jorge and Austral basins in the south and west to the greater Buenos Aires area and the major consumption centers of southern Argentina. TGS has also a leading role in natural gas liquids production and commercialization in the local and exports market, with an NGL complex at Bahia Blanca (province of Buenos Aires).
Argentina has the world’s second-largest shale gas reserves in the world after the US, centered on the Vaca Muerta field in the Neuquen, with an estimated 308 trillion ft3 of dry, wet and associated shale gas resources, according to a country profile by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) published a year ago.
Argentina has been looking at ways to export its seasonal surplus of shale gas, with exports by pipe to Chile expected to resume by November after a gap of over a decade, and LNG now seen as a further option.
For some while, small quantities of gas have been liquefied locally with the LNG trucked to industries and a catamaran ferry operator.