Petrobras starts up Brazil’s third FSRU import facility

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Petrobras, Brazil’s national oil and gas company, has started up the nation’s third LNG import terminal, taking combined regasification capacity to 41 MMcm/d – almost one-and-a-half times Brazil’s capacity to import pipeline gas from Bolivia. First gas from the terminal entered the national pipeline network on 24th January.

Petrobras said the terminal – located in Baía de Todos os Santos, Salvador, in the state of Bahia – would bring “greater flexibility and assurances to natural gas supplies in Brazil”. The Bahia Regasification Terminal (TRBA), which has a regas capacity of 14 MMcm/d of natural gas, involved an investment of around R$ 1 billion ($410 million). Like the existing two terminals, it is based on a Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU).

Converted carriers: Brazil first began importing LNG in 2009, the year that two FSRUs entered production, both of them converted LNG carriers (LNGCs) supplied by Golar LNG.

The Golar Spirit, a conversion of an LNGC constructed in 1981, has a regasification capacity of 7 MMcm/d (around 2.5 Bcm/year) and is located at Pecém, in the state of Ceará. Using closed loop regasification technology and over-jetty LNG transfer, it has storage capacity of 129,000 cubic meters. It is contracted to Petrobras until 2018.

The Golar Winter, a conversion of an LNGC constructed in 2004, has a regasification capacity of 14 MMcm/d (around 5.1 Bcm/year) and was initially located at Guanabara Bay in the state of Rio de Janeiro. With the option to utilise open or closed loop regasification technology and over-jetty LNG transfer, it has storage capacity of 138,000 cubic meters.

In 2011 Petrobras executed a 15-year time charter party with Excelerate Energy to provide an advanced FSRU, designated by Petrobras as VT3, for the delivery of 20 MMcm/d of gas to the south-eastern region of Brazil. As part of that deal it was agreed that the Golar Winter at Guanabara Bay would be replaced temporarily by an existing Excelerate vessel, the 20 MMcm/d Exquisite, to boost Brazil’s regas capacity while it awaits delivery of the VT 3 later this year. The substitution took place on 3rd December 2012.

Flexible solutions: That in turn freed up the Golar Winter for deployment at Bahia – an excellent example of how the inherent flexibility of FSRUs can be a boon to nations faced with fast-growing gas demand. The Golar Winter is contracted to Petrobras until 2024, while the Exquisite will be deployed elsewhere by Excelerate when the new VT3 arrives.

The VT3, due to enter service in May, will have storage capacity of 173,400 cubic metres, making it the largest FSRU in service.

Petrobras has been importing LNG from various suppliers around the world, on a spot and short-term basis, to meet domestic demand for gas, “with a view to providing greater flexibility and guaranteeing supplies, thereby increasing the country’s energy security, which is essential to encourage new investment”. In 2012 the company imported 39 cargoes.

 (Photo courtesy of Petrobras Agency)

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