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No Mitsubishi deal yet

By Darcel Choy Thursday, December 13 2012

THE Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan could begin the first phase of a US$850 million methanol project late next year once the necessary approvals are granted.

However checks by Business Day indicate that despite pronouncements by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine about billions of dollars in revenue which the project will bring to the country, there is no evidence of a signed agreement as yet that would make this project a reality.

Checks on the Mitsubishi Corporation’s website show no evidence of the project mentioned by Persad-Bissessar at a United National Congress (UNC) public meeting in Penal two weeks ago and by Ramnarine at a news conference at his office.

According to Mitsubishi Corporation’s website, the company is a global integrated business enterprise that develops and operates businesses across virtually every industry including industrial finance, energy, metals, machinery, chemicals, foods, and environmental business.

Mitsubishi’s website lists projects the corporation is undertaking or in negotiations to undertake in countries such as geothermal power in Indonesia , an IPP project in Jordan, an LNG project in Australia and the production of the first Japanese lithium-ion battery on a commercial scale in Chile. However there is no mention of Trinidad and Tobago or the proposed plant mentioned by Persad-Bissessar or Ramnarine.

There is also no mention of this project on the website of the Neal and Massy Group either.

Mitsubishi will partner with local conglomerate Neal and Massy Holdings Limited of Trinidad and Tobago and ICCL a US based company. At a press conference at his office at Tower C of the International Waterfront Centre in Port-of-Spain last Friday Ramnarine said, the approvals for the project required include a Certificate of Environmental Clearance as well as approvals from Town and Country Planning. .The project, he said will convert methanol to Di-Methyl Ether or DME which is used in China and Europe as a substitute for propane and diesel and is a clean fuel.“It therefore has immediate applications in Trinidad and Tobago as a replacement or blending stock for diesel. It is however cheaper than diesel given the fact that it is derived from natural gas as opposed to being derived from expensive crude oil,” Ramnarine said.

He said in June this year, the ministry received a proposal from Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan for a Methanol to Petrochemicals project. The proposal was evaluated by a joint team consisting of the Ministry, the National Gas Company and the National Energy Corporation. The evaluation of the project was submitted to the Standing Committee on Energy on November 15 and then sent to Cabinet.

The project which has two phases has a gas requirement of 100 million standard cubic feed per day. The proposed cite for the project is in Union Estate, La Brea. The land requirement for Phase 1 of the project is 50 hectares and the gas requirement of 100 million standard cubic feed per day.

Last Thursday, Transport Minister Chandresh Sharma announced Government’s intention to build a deepwater port in La Brea. Ramnarine said there were several advantages to this project including the stimulation of economic activity in the La Brea area.

“The presence of a reputable local partner in Neal and Massy with augurs wells for local content. The production of DME could be used as a blending stock for diesel and Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG). Phase two of the project has the potential to go even further downstream to Mono Ethylene Glycol and Acrylonitrile,” he said.

With regard to Phase two, Mitsubishi has signed an Memorandum Of Understanding with Phoenix Park Gas Processors Limited for the supply of ethane which is needed as a feedstock for Acrylonitrile.

He said an inter-ministerial committee which will be chaired by Ramnarine. has been established by Cabinet to oversee the project.

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