CEB engineers rule out converting power plants from thermal to gas

by Ifham Nizam

Senior Ceylon Electricity Board engineers yesterday, ruled out the possibility of converting all thermal power plants in the country to Liquid Natural Gas fuelled projects.

A senior engineer told The Island yesterday, that three feasibility studies were done on the possibility of converting thermal plants into LNG, however, the result was unfavourable. "One study was done with the support of a Japanese firm. This too, proved unsuccessful," he added.

He said that they were aware that certain institutions were conducting feasibility studies. "What we want is transparency and the involvement of CEB officials in these studies. Past experience shows that some institutions always try not to be transparent because of the hidden costs involved. We don't want to burden consumers with such costs," he said, adding that Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka, who is an electrical engineer by profession, should be cautious about institutions that look for short cuts and quick revenues.

Minister Champika Ranawaka said that the government would decide on the conversion shortly. However, he said, the prime issue that needed to be addressed was the transportation of the LNG.

"LNG has to be compressed to be transported and has to be then transformed to a liquid gas to be used in the plant," he said.

He said that the government needs to decide on whether the country should opt for a fixed or floating LNG terminal. Constructing a fixed terminal would take time, while the floating option could be initiated almost immediately.

He said LNG would cost much less than diesel and its carbon dioxide emissions were one third of that emitted by coal power plants.

According to Ranawaka, studies have also revealed that the country may have the necessary LNG resources by 2014.

"The drilling for oil in the Mannar Basin has already commenced and they have found gas as well. Therefore, we may easily find the necessary resources to operate LNG plants too," he said.

The Island learns that conversion would involve 800 MWs of electricity that was currently generated through thermal power.

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