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    Gatun Generating Plant is 60% complete

    May 25, 2023 - CE Noticias Financieras


      With an investment of $1.2 billion, the Gatun Generating Plant is being built in the province of Colon, with an electrical generation capacity of 670 MW (megawatts) to be injected into the energy matrix.

      The project will be generating energy in two liquefied natural gas (LNG) turbines and one steam turbine, and will generate sustainability to the electrical system, especially in complicated moments such as those that could be brought by the El Niño phenomenon.

      When operational, the Gatun Generating Plant will inject more than double the amount contributed by AES Panama (380 MW), which also has an LNG-based power plant in Colon, into the country's energy matrix.

      "Today we are creating the most important and largest power generation plant in Panama's electricity system, but also in Central America and the Caribbean. The total investment of this project is $1.2 billion," said the general manager of the Generadora Gatun plant, Esteban Barrientos.

      Generadora Gatun, in the best case scenario, will have the capacity to generate between 30% and 35% of the country's total demand. "A natural gas plant like this one, which generates firmness in the system, what it generates is sustainability, not necessarily that price drop", he clarified.


      As of today, Generadora Gatun is 60% complete and, according to Barrientos, is progressing according to the proposed construction schedule. The power generation project is being developed and will be operated when completed by Generadora Gatun, whose shareholders are InterEnergy Group Ltd. (51%) and AES (49%).

      Barrientos pointed out that as a company (Generadora Gatun), it is currently developing three projects: the Generadora Gatun plant, the Telefers-Sabanitas transmission line of 26.7 km, which will later become the property of Etesa, and the expansion infrastructure of the natural gas plant.

      The project is also an employment booster in Colon, a province that according to the National Institute of Statistics and Census (Inec), published by the Comptroller General of the Republic, has an unemployment rate of 12.0% (2022), one of the highest in the country.

      It is estimated that the construction of the entire project currently generates about 1,500 jobs, and when it is in operation it is estimated to have about 70 people working, of which it is expected to have about 50 in the plant, most of them from Colon.

      "Today around 1,500 people are working on this project, of which 70% of the labor force is local, which is very important. This has to be a matter of pride for the colonenses, because we are building, not only a plant of this completely modern quality, but in record time," said Barrientos.

      The project is expected to be operational by July 13, 2024, when it should be fully operational, commercially speaking. And they have the responsibility to deliver firm energy to distributors Naturgy and Ensa, starting October 1, 2024.

      "We have commitments with the distributors to deliver firm energy as of October 1 of next year (2024) and we are sure that we will not only meet that date, but also much earlier. Surely in the month of June or July we will be generating quality energy for the country and for Panamanians", he said.

      Purchase of gas

      He also said that Generadora Gatun has already signed a 20-year natural gas contract with a multinational company and they should normally bring gas from the nearest sites: the United States, Trinidad and Tobago and the Gulf of Mexico.

      "The important thing is that they have to comply with the arrival of the ships, which they have contracted with us, and in the times stipulated in the contract for 20 years. And that is also very important because it generates stability in price and supply," he said.

      The project will also have a hydroelectric plant with all the latest generation infrastructure to desalinate the water needed for the cooling process of all the equipment, which makes it more sustainable.

      For the operation of this water treatment plant, water is extracted from the ocean, demineralized, the salt is removed (desalination process) and made drinkable, and this water is used in the cooling process for power generation.


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