East Timor Launches Feasibility Study for LNG Imports

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East Timor has launched a feasibility study on importing LNG for power generation, its national oil company Timor Gap said. The study signals a potentially significant shift in the country's LNG aspirations. The country -- nestled in the Indonesian archipelago and one of Southeast Asia’s most impoverished nations -- has a majority stake in the offshore Greater Sunrise gas and condensate fields and an LNG production plant was initially mulled to commercialize the resources. But such plans have faded away amid disagreements including over whether to build onshore liquefaction in East Timor, or offshore liquefaction (LNGI Mar.8'18; LNGI Nov.27'18; LNGI May6'19). East Timor appears set to join countries like Egypt and Argentina that have swung between LNG exporter and importer status (LNGI Oct.21'20; LNGI Jan.27'21). Timor Gap awarded the feasibility study contract to engineering and consulting firm Wood Group last week. The contract cost around $721,000, Timor Gap said, adding the study will take around six months to complete. The feasibility study will identify potential markets for LNG imports to East Timor, also known as Timor Leste. It will also earmark and assess possible sites for building an LNG regasification terminal and associated facilities. The study will also produce cost estimates for terminal development, operation and downstream gas distribution. East Timor receives electricity mainly from the Hera, Betano and Oe-Cusse power plants located along its north and south coasts. All three plants are fired by light fuel oil, but can be converted to run on natural gas, according to Timor Gap. Doing that “will achieve significant reductions to both fuel supply costs and greenhouse gas emissions,” the firm said. The role of cleaner-burning gas, and LNG, in power generation -- as well as in industrial, transportation and commercial sectors -- could grow as governments and companies eye decarbonization to meet environmental goals (LNGI Mar.26'21). Irwin Yeo, Singapore

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