Cheaper Electricity In Sight


    The Conex Crude Storage Terminal (CST) project in collaboration with the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company ("LPRC") is expected to be completed in December this year, says Lutech, the contracting company hired to do the construction work for this project.  Upon completion, the CST facility, located near the Bong Mine Pier on Bushrod Island, will be used to bring in Heavy Fuel Oil, which is expected to enable the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) reduce the cost of electricity as a public utility by at approximately 50%.  

    Mr. Hassan Kiawu, communications consultant for Liberia Electricity Corporation confirmed to the Daily Observer LEC’s parallel activities to make ready for the HFO facility at LPRC. According to him, LEC has three HFO power projects – power generating systems built to be fueled specifically with HFO. One of them, through a partnership with Japan, is a 10 megawatt facility whose mechanical work has already been completed. The other two include another 10MW facility funded by the World Bank and an 18MW facility funded by the Government of Liberia, both of which were expected to be dedicated by March and July next year, respectively, but may experience delays due to the Ebola crisis.  He said, however, that these facilities could increase LEC’s power generation capacity and at the same reduce the cost to consumers by approximately 50%.

    Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) is one of the cheapest of the petroleum products derived from crude oil after the finer products (gasoline, kerosene, etc) have been extracted.  A key benefit is that it burns much slower than diesel and other petroleum products, which makes it an attractive proposition for Liberia. However, it generates higher carbon emissions. 

    Much more viscous (thicker) than its petroleum counterparts, HFO must be preheated at temperatures well above the boiling point of water to make it more fluid for use.  But because of such delicate storage and pre-use requirements, HFO is used mainly for very large ships and extremely large power plants like LEC. HFO cannot be used in road vehicles or small engines such as ordinary diesel generators.

    The last time HFO was imported in Liberia was in 1990. Neither LPRC nor LEC could confirm when the first post-war consignment of HFO would arrive in the country. 

    On Thursday, October 16, a delegation from the LPRC visited the CST to inspect the ongoing construction works at the terminal. The delegation which included Managing Director T. Nelson Williams, II; Board Chairman Dr. Herman Brown; Board members Rev. Emmanuel Bowier, George Kpawulu, Nowai Gorlowulu; and Deputy Managing Director for Operations, Aaron J. Wheagar, I, witnessed two separate power point presentations by the managements Lutech and Conex, which showed the status of the project as it relates to current and ongoing work.

    The LPRC delegation were then taken on a guided tour, where they saw the completed generator building, fire water pump house near completion and works being done on six separate tanks that are being erected, as well as the giant-sized tank already rehabilitated and product pump house steel plates that are being worked on.

    The project, according to Lutech and Conex authorities, is 70% complete and by December 2014, the remaining 30% will be completed.

    The Director of Lutech Liberia, Krangar Diggs, said "despite the rain and the current Ebola crisis, we are on track with our timeline and we will complete this project (CST) by December this year, 2014".

    It can be recalled that on Wednesday, November 13, 2013, the LPRC and Conex, a petroleum importer, held a one day stakeholder conference at the Mamba Point hotel where several personalities including those in national government, petroleum importers, mining sector, etc. had the opportunity to be informed of plans for the supply of HFO in the country in 2014, through the Crude Storage Terminal on Bushrod Island.  And true to this, the timeline seems to be on course with the CST project set to be completed in December this year.  

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