Chinese company takes power supply in Panama; eyes LNG

Author: Ruth Liao


A Chinese-backed company called Martano has secured the supply of 350MW of electricity in Panama’s power system for 15 years, starting in 2019. The move would mean the supply of LNG into the Central American country.

Panama’s Empresa de Transmision Electrica (Etesa) announced the award on 11 December, based on an offer price of $0.08495/KWh, which was 30% lower than what was offered in a previous tender.

During a tender that was held in February 2015, 14 proposals were received at the time, and for the first time, offers came in under $0.10/KWh.

Etesa’s CEO said that Martano has demonstrated financial resources and the ability to supply natural gas using vessels across the Pacific.

Representatives from Martano could not be reached for comment. It was unclear whether Martano held any existing physical assets in Panama or China.

In a filing with the Panamanian government, Martano was authorised to develop its Gas-to-Power Panama project for a 325MW gas-fired power plant in the village of Puerto Pilon, in the district and province of Colon. On 26 October, Martano modified the provisional licence to an installed capacity of 400MW. The facility plans on using four gas turbines to be manufactured by Shanghai Electric Corporation.

Other providers of construction and supplies for the project include Fujian Yongfu Power Engineering, which issued a letter of intent, an agreement with Panama Colon Container port and a letter of intent for operating and maintenance services by a company called CHD Power Plant Operation Company.

The project will also include an updated fuel strategy and a feasibility study on installing an LNG import and storage terminal.

US-based power generator AES has proposed its own LNG import terminal to supply 350MW of new capacity through a bid the generator won separately. That power purchase agreement (PPA) was for a 10-year duration. A spokesperson for AES said on 16 December that the PPA was expected to be signed before the end of 2015.

It was unclear whether Martano would pursue its own import project separately or whether it would align with AES’ existing plans.

Another plan to import LNG into Panama was eyed for Telfers Island on the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal. Those plans, led by a company called LNG Group Panama, which signed a Heads of Agreement with a subsidiary of Switzerland-based Gunvor for proposed supply from the US Magnolia LNG project in Louisiana, has since been shelved.

A market source in the Americas said AES was in discussions with Martano for the Chinese company to take capacity in its project. The spokesperson for AES declined to comment when asked about Martano.