Chile's GasAtacama launches Mejillones FSRU plan

Author: Ben Wetherall


Chilean electricity company GasAtacama has issued a tender to develop a floating regasification and storage unit (FSRU) and has asked short-listed companies to submit bids on the import facility by the end of the month, sources involved in the tender said on Monday.

The power generator currently supplies regasified LNG to four mining projects from the existing Mejillones terminal in northern Chile, but wants to develop its own LNG import capabilities before the end of 2012.

Participants will have to submit bids on the FSRU, which would be located in Mejillones Bay with a regasification capacity of around 200-300 million cubic feet/day, or 5.67-8.50 million cubic metres (Mm³)/day, one source said.

GasAtacama, a joint venture between power utility Empresa Nacional de Electricidad SA (Endesa) and private-equity fund Southern Cross, operates a regional gas pipeline network, through which it transports regasified LNG to BHP Billiton, Freeport-McMoRan, Codelco and a joint venture between Anglo American and Xstrata, the contracted offtakers from Mejillones.

GNL Mejillones, operator of the existing 5.5 Mm³/day capacity facility, is building an additional onshore 175,000m³ capacity storage tank by 2013.

The tank will replace the 162,400m³ LNG carrier GDF SUEZ Brussels, which is currently being used as floating storage. However, GNL Mejillones, a partnership between GDF SUEZ (63%) and miner Codelco (37%) has yet to secure supply agreements beyond the end of 2012, when its existing contracts with the four mining companies expire.

GasAtacama is understood to be pursuing the FSRU as a second means to import LNG in the Mejillones area. In March, GasAtacama's CEO in Chile told a local newspaper that the company was in negotiations to import LNG from the US, but did not specify the company or the liquefaction terminal involved. No further details on Chilean imports from the US have arisen since.