Chile's oil company triumphs where generators stumble

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

State oil company Enap has achieved what many large thermo projects struggle with in Chile: securing a social license for a thermo power plant.

Enap signed an agreement with central region V municipality Concón and its residents to build a 77MW cogeneration plant at its Aconcagua refinery, paving the way for construction to begin.

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Social opposition has delayed or halted development of several thermo power plants in Chile, including MPX's Castilla (2.1GW), GDF Suez's Barrancones (566MW), Endesa Chile's Punta Alcalde coal-fired plant (740MW), and Rurelec's Termonor (40MW).

The Enap deal was signed once a local group withdrew a legal suit that had halted the original 165MW project due to environmental concerns, the NOC said in a statement.

The agreement was reached after CEO Julio Bertrand and other Enap executives took part in a two-day roundtable discussion with the opposition group, which included the Concón mayor, civic organizations and residents.

"Hopefully this marks a milestone on how to do things right when industries present these types of projects," Bertrand said in the release.

Enap was awarded environmental permits to build the Aconcagua power generation complex in 2007. The complex's design included a 165MW triple turbine co-generation plant and a 414MW combined cycle plant. Last year, a new design reducing the co-generation plant's turbine count to two was approved, sparking legal action by the opposition group.

Without increasing the refinery's existing fresh water consumption, a major concern raised by residents, a 77MW gas turbine will be installed initially. Enap agreed to secure new environmental permits prior to the installation of the second 77MW turbine and 414MW combined cycle plant.

The plant will cover the refinery's steam and electricity demand (50MW) while excess energy generated will be injected in to the SIC grid via the Torquemada substation.

Australia's Origin Energy (ASX: ORG) continues to evaluate the possibility of partnering with the NOC for the development of the power plant, BNamericas has learned.

Conversations are ongoing under a MoU signed with Enap in 2012 for LNG procurement and downstream energy opportunities.