Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 9th 2017 Contents MARCH 9 • 2017 guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG7
means more gas for energy
The installation of
two new engines
at the Penal Power
Station will help
alleviate the coun-
try's gas shortage
as less gas will be needed in pow-
er generation, says Surindranath
Ramsingh, general manager at the
Power Generation Company of T&T
Ramsingh was speaking about
the upgraded gas turbine generat-
ing plant at the Penal Power Station.
"There has been the curtailment
of natural gas for the needs of the
petrochemical industry in T&T.
These power generators in Penal are
users of natural gas for electricity
generation, so wherever there is op-
portunity for improving efficien-
cy and reducing the consumption
of natural gas, it is a welcomed
opportunity," he told the Business
Guardian on Monday.
T&T's petrochemical industry has
been hard hit over the last five years
because of problems with the supply
of natural gas.
The government hopes to ease the
curtailments by purchasing gas from
Venezuela's offshore Dragon field,
and has a tentative agreement with
Venezuela's government to establish
a commercial venture to exploit gas
deposits that straddle the maritime
border between the two countries.
"With the new engines, less gas is
needed for the same or less output
in generation. This will allow the
gas to be used in more value-add-
ed processes in the petrochemical
industry," said Ramsingh.
When PowerGen worked out the
equivalent natural gas savings from
the new engines; it resulted in 1.2
billion standard cubic feet per year.
"This will now be able to be trans-
ferred to the petrochemical or other
industries. It is around an eight per
cent reduction in the usage of gas. So
if every user reduces consumption
by eight or ten per cent this would
be a significant reduction."
Ramsingh spoke to the Business
Guardian at PowerGen's Victoria
Avenue Office, Port-of-Spain.
According to a media release from
PowerGen, the upgrade of this sta-
tion's two gas turbines, which form
an integral part of the combined cy-
cle power generation system, plays
an important role in the company's
The event marks the culmination
of several years of planning followed
by approximately 300,000 man-
hours of work in 2016 to execute this
signal event in the industry.
This is the first flange-to-flange
upgrade of this type in the region,
the first project of this type executed
primarily by PowerGen's staff and it
is being viewed as a demonstration
of the company's commitment to the
continuing optimisation of the na-
tion's natural gas resources.
PowerGen's shareholders are
state-owned Electricity Commis-
sion (T&TEC) with 51 per cent, the
Marubeni Corporation of Japan
(with 39 per cent) and publicly listed
National Enterprises Ltd (NEL) with
10 per cent.
PowerGen owns two working
power stations in Trinidad: Point
Lisas and in Penal, with a third on
Wrightson Road in Port-of-Spain
having been decommissioned in
Other independent power pro-
ducers (IPP) in the country are Trin-
ity Power Ltd based in Point Lisas
and Trinidad Generation Unlimited
"When the combined cycle plant
at Penal was commissioned in 1984,
the two GE Frame 7E gas turbines
and one steam turbine working to-
gether produced a combined cycle
output of 196 MW in its 'new and
"Over the past 32 years , with the
three machines aging, the plant's
output had degraded to 177 MW. The
two new GE Frame 7EA gas turbines,
which were used to replace the two
old Frame 7Es, now produce 75 MW
each in combined cycle mode, giving
a combined cycle total of 213 MW,"
GE was the company from the US
that supplied the two engines in Jan-
uary 2016. There were two contracts;
one for the purchase and installation
and another contract for the main-
tenance of the engines for two years.
By November 2016, the engines
were completely installed and com-
The total cost of the project to
purchase and install the engines was
US$25 million. If they had gone the
route of rebuilding the entire plant
instead of just buying new engines, it
would have cost PowerGen US$200
The new engines will add another
40 years of life to the Penal power
Ramsingh said 98 per cent of the
project was based on local content.
"Engineers, craftsmen, support
staff were local. The other two per
cent provided by GE was the super-
vision for warranty issues. All the
physical skills were done by locals."
He added that all this is part of
PowerGen's local content policy.
"All our maintenance activities are
done in-house. This is exceptional
for power generation. Usually, a lot
of the IPPs use contract services for
their maintenance needs. So while
they operate the plant, they would
outsource a lot.
"PowerGen, on the other hand,
has in-house maintenance staff and
that has been so for the last 50 years."
He said the skill levels in the pow-
er generation industry are very high
with experienced personnel.
"This makes us more marketable,
not only in T&T, but internationally."
Point Lisas plant
Ramsingh said the upgrade at the
Penal Power Station is a blueprint for
PowerGen to upgrade the units at the
Point Lisas Power Station.
"The units at Point Lisas are even
older than those that at Penal, about
40 years old units to newer ones
which are about 20 years old. The
40 year old engines are the ones we
will be targeting. Those are the next
projects that we will be looking at.
There will be a similar arrangement
where will be looking at upgrading
the engines and using the existing
infrastructure," he said.
Ramsingh said the cost for the new
engines and installation at the Point
Lisas power plant could be around
He said the timeline for this pro-
ject to begin would be within the
next year or two.
He added that PowerGen---as an
IPP---has had many years of expe-
rience and the company is one of
the best performers in the region in
"We were the first IPP that came
into existence in the region. We were
divested from T&TEC in 1994 and,
therefore, we have a lot of the expe-
rience in power generation. And we
have built upon it. We have become
more efficient with every project."
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
Company general manager
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