Conrad Prabhu –
Muscat, APRIL 19 –
Eager to support ongoing efforts by Oman’s authorities to secure the energy requirements of industrial investors at the Duqm Special Economic Zone (SEZ), the Port of Duqm plans to study the feasibility of accommodating a Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU), a specially refitted vessel designed to store, transport and regasify liquefied natural gas (LNG), at the maritime gateway.
However, any move in this direction is predicated on evidence emerging of strong interest in, and concrete demand for, LNG as an energy resource in Duqm, a senior port executive has noted.
Erwin Mortelmans, Commercial Director, said Duqm Port, in its capacity as a facilitator and service provider, is keen to support any initiatives to meet the evolving energy needs of investors setting up shop in the SEZ. Imported LNG, he explained, is among a broad array of conventional and renewable energy sources being looked at in this regard.
LNG is very important for us because of its potential, as one of many types of energy sources, that can be supplied to the hinterlands of the entire Duqm area, he said. Some people are also looking at coal, and renewables like wind and solar energy, so LNG should be seen as part of a package of energy resources that can be suitably tapped to meet the SEZ’s energy needs, he added in remarks made at an energy conference held in the city last week.
The potential for LNG imports coupled with investments in an FSRU together represent an idea that has been gaining traction ever since it was broached at last week’s forum. With demand for natural gas far outstripping supply, LNG imports are being mooted as making economic sense in today’s low oil price environment, say experts.
At last week’s forum, state-owned Oman Shipping Company pitched the idea of LNG imports as a potentially attractive option for meeting localized energy demand to help tide over supply shortfalls or until time that long-term supply infrastructure comes on stream.
If pursued in conjunction with relatively modest investments in an FSRU, which is essentially a converted LNG carrier, imported LNG shipped to site can be regasified on board the vessel and pumped directly into the local gas grid — a process that also does away with the need for expensive onshore regasification capacity.
For its part, Port of Duqm says it will weigh portside logistics necessary to support LNG imports.
“We are going to be doing a feasibility study (following on from Oman Shipping’s) idea of putting an FSRU unit in Duqm,” said Mortelmans.
However, the initiative can only be financially viable if the demand for LNG as a fuel resource is well established, he added.
Conrad Prabhu –