Chilean generator Colbún will likely develop a floating storage and regasification unit (FRSU) rather than an onshore terminal should it proceed with plans to construct the second LNG regasification unit to supply gas to the country's central SIC power grid, a spokesperson for the company told BNamericas.
"We are studying certain plans, though there is nothing concrete. We are closer to the idea of mobile units, boats that can regasify in situ. To construct a terminal is very expensive," the spokesperson said.
The firm is currently involved in studying potential locations for a new terminal, which will be used to import gas for its current gas-fired thermo assets located in the 874MW capacity Nehuenco complex in central region V.
"Colbún has two combined cycle power plants on the SIC grid that run on gas and are very efficient. However, in Chile we have had gas supplies from Argentina cut off. We are evaluating how we can bring the gas here, to make the most of those assets we have."
Local press reports that the firm hopes to have the plant in operation by 2014, though the company spokesperson declined to confirm this when asked by BNamericas.
Chile currently has two operating LNG regasification terminals: Mejillones, which supplies gas to the north of the country, and Quintero in central region V. Colbún purchases gas from the latter terminal for use in its power plants.
Another Chilean generator, GasAtacama, recently revealed its intention to construct the country's third LNG unit in the north of the country. The firm is planning to invest US$250mn developing an FRSU 2km off the coast in the Mejillones bay, and connect to the firm's 780MW Central Térmica Atacama thermo plant through an underwater pipeline.
The existing LNG plants were developed in a bid to reduce the country's dependence on imports from Argentina. Chile was almost plunged into darkness after Argentina broke natural gas export contracts during the 2007-8 gas crisis in an effort to meet domestic demand.