A gas infrastructure that has cost the country no less than $ 1,112 million, among construction, investments, losses and even irregular payments already glossed, is currently underutilized in the southern sector of the country. It is the gas axis formed by the Amistad field, in the Gulf of Guayaquil, and its gas pipeline now managed by Petroamazonas (with investments of $ 582 million and a gloss of $ 49 million).
This is connected to the Bajo Alto storage and liquefaction plant in El Oro, owned by EP Petroecuador (cost $ 85 million and $ 115 million in losses due to failures have been recorded). In this same axis is the combined cycle power plant of Termomachala, now in the hands of Celec EP (which would cost $ 282 million and record gloss of $ 31 million).
In 2011, the Government promoted the discovery of 1.7 trillion cubic feet of gas in Amistad and the possibility of avoiding imports of liquefied petroleum gas, by replacing it with natural gas. To find the fuel, for example, the Petrex Ocean Spur platform was contracted, which cost the country $ 114,000 a day and ended in three failed wells.
However, today there are three certainties: the reserves were overestimated, there is not enough natural gas for the growing demand and it could be imported from Peru.
“Currently we do not have enough gas”, says Álex Galárraga, manager of Petroamazonas EP, which operates the Amistad field and which is also about to finalize, in the coming days, the tender of the field under contract for the provision of specific services with financing. Galárraga explains that by the end of the year there will be a demand for natural gas of 90 million cubic feet from Termomachala (63 million feet), the Bajo Alto plant (12 million) and Vesuvio – a private plant in Cuenca – (14 million ).
However, only 35 million cubic feet are produced. With the Amistad tender it could go up to 50 million or 55 million, he says. But the deficit would remain.
In the same line, the design capacity for the liquefaction of Bajo Alto is 200 metric tons per day (t / d) of natural gas, with an approximate consumption of 12.5 million cubic feet per day. But the plant can only operate continuously, safely and reliably up to 60% of its capacity (120 t / d), mainly due to differential settlements (subsidence), says Jorge Loor Quevedo, Petroecuador’s Transportation Management Advisor.
Galárraga remembers that the infrastructure was built under the premise that there was a mega-gas project in Amistad, which was not fulfilled. But it says that the infrastructure is already built.
Against this, in these days the Government analyzes the options so that this infrastructure can be exploited in a better way. Thus, the authorities of Non-Renewable Natural Resources met with the company Frontera de Perú. The idea is to be able to import natural gas from that country and thus supply the customers.
However, it is necessary to have a government-to-government agreement and sign a memorandum of understanding. Then an 18-kilometer gas pipeline from Peru (Corvina) to the Amistad field must be built. The payment would be with international price. (I)