Apr 15, 2021 News
…one says to be done, the other says it’s a ‘no brainer’ if you see the figures
Kaieteur News – Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, has doubled down on his belief that the proposed gas-to-power project in Guyana “is a no brainer for anybody who
has looked at the numbers,” but his Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, has since disclosed that the requisite studies are yet to be done.Dr. Jagdeo on Tuesday last, yet again, defended the project, in light of the fact that there is growing public outcry for the feasibility and other technical studies to be done before proceeding with any such project.
“I saw people say oh, whether we did the feasibility studies and I said it’s a no brainer; it is a no brainer for anybody who has looked at the numbers,” the former president, now vice president, admonished.
At the time a guest of the New York based online outfit, ‘Abee Chunes Radio,’ which is streamed live on Facebook, he was asked about Guyana’s proposed infrastructure projects in light of the emerging oil and gas industry.
The Vice President was adamant that power generation has to be crucial for the wellbeing of people, and that “our people need cheaper power now for domestic purposes,” in addition to industries.
As such, according to Dr. Jagdeo, “we have mapped out what the demand will be for over the next five years and we have come up with an energy mix that will involve solar, hydro and gas-fired power plants to fulfill most of those demands.”
He said there will of course be other initiatives on a smaller scale and pointed to one or two wind power projects that could be installed.
According to the Vice President, 250 Megawatts (MW) of electricity “will come from the gas-to-energy project.”
To this end, he observed, “I saw people say, oh whether we did feasibility study, I said it is a no brainer and Christopher Ram said I was saying oh people didn’t have brains.”
Convinced that the project “is a no brainer for anybody who has looked at the numbers,” Dr. Jagdeo told the moderators that the Guyana Power and Light Company (GPL) currently produces electricity at a cost of some US$0.14 cents and that this is being sold at US$0.30 cents per kWh (kilowatt hour)—one of the highest in world.
He reasoned, “…if we can, from the gas project get power at US$0.06 cents per kWh and then that drops to about US$0.03 cents or US$0.04 cents, imagine what we can do, we can cut price of power immediately by half.”
The Vice President suggested, “If you cut the cost by half and still make a huge profit then immediately the economy will respond and people’s lives would improve; it’s a no brainer.”
He noted too, in his defence of the gas-fired plants, that solar energy is expensive to install and that it is in fact unreliable, saying “solar can’t be compared with gas-to-power.”
Dr. Jagdeo sought to underscore that gas-to-power serves as a base load and questioned what obtains when there is extensive cloud cover even as he pointed out that this would mean returning to fossil fuel power.
He noted that even if the system was to use battery to complement its solar generation then this would push up the costs enormously.
Seeking to rubbish the arguments in the public domain, the Vice President posited that critics of the project are not using the actual figures but are in fact using anecdotes.
“A lot of these guys are talking off the top of their heads, anecdotally; you know this country runs on anecdotes, people don’t look at the numbers and gaff,” he said, dismissing the critics.
According to Dr. Jagdeo, “I can understand serious questions about the project and we need to be opened minded about people who have genuine concerns.”
The Vice President’s statements however, run counter to his administration’s top legal advisor, the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, who just days earlier had confessed that there were in fact no studies done as yet.
Addressing the public in his weekly ‘issues in the news’ broadcast, the Attorney General sought to lend his voice in support of the proposed gas-to-power project, and assured that “the final numbers will come when the requisite studies are done.”
According to Nandlall, “many persons have been criticising the government for this project but let me say that from all the evidence that is available,” the projections show that “this project will produce energy as low as US$0.06 cents.”
He noted too that GPL currently produces energy at US$0.14 cents, while selling at US$0.27 cents.
Defending the “huge” capital output or spending for the project—estimated to be some US$800M for the pipeline alone—Nandlall was adamant, “when one weighs that against the benefits that would redound to Guyana, then it appears to be a feasible project.”
He noted however, “…the final numbers will come when the requisite studies are done but people are faulting the project from the inception” and drew reference to the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project.
Speaking to the proposed gas-to-power project, Nandlall said “we don’t want that to happen to this project,” referencing the then fate of the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric project.
As such, Nandlall divulged that, “yes, the environmental impact assessment will be done, the necessary geotechnical studies will be done, we are committed to that course but don’t kill the project from the beginning and that is what commentators are doing in the media and in the public domain.”
He said too that “we have to take risks,” and said this is true of any successful business across the world.
Adamant that risk is a part of business, Nandlall noted that these must be prudent and calculated and that “this project is one that is guaranteed to be successful.”
As such, he pleaded, “let’s support this project and the government will release more information.”
According to Nandlall, “we are committed also to ensure we comply with processes, we make careful decisions based on expert advice and as far as possible make the document public, as soon as is possible or as soon as it is reasonably possible.”
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