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High capacity fuel storage plant opens

High capacity fuel  storage plant opens


St Vincent and the Grenadines now has increased capacity to store fossil fuels and thus greater energy security.

On Tuesday, the Hugo Chavez National Fuel Storage Facility, which is named after Venezuela’s former president, was officially opened. The plant is located at Lowmans Bay, {{more}}adjacent to the St Vincent Electricity Services Ltd (VINLEC) facility and is expected to store the nation’s supply of diesel, gasoline and jet fuel.

According to chief executive officer of VINLEC, Thornley Myers, 15 years ago, VINLEC only had sufficient fuel storage capacity to generate electricity for a single day. The company therefore purchased diesel every day and had it transported to the Cane Hall power station. Now, it is expected that the increase in storage capacity will provide additional savings to electricity customers from reduced freight and insurance costs.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, speaking at the ceremony, said that the additional storage space will add to the energy security of the country and thanked the 14 families that relocated from the area so that the storage facility could be built.

“Thornley told you that VINLEC had storage for one day. But the storage in the country as a whole was under 10 days, so that is why the suppliers had to come here very frequently. You hear the capacity that we have now. We are having here now … instead of 10 days national supply, the equivalent of just under 40 days. That is the reality of what we have here,” the Prime Minister said.

Gonsalves, who also has responsibility for energy, made reference to threats in 2005 by a major fuel supplier and recent developments with the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in this country, noting that once the facility becomes operational, no company would be able to threaten to stop providing their services.

“Each cylindrical sphere…will be able to fill 8,000 x 22 lb cylinders of gas. That means 16,000 cylinders and the supply will be every two weeks, so in a month we can fill 32,000 cylinders. I want Rubis to stay in the business; I want SOL to stay in the business; but one thing I am sure of….when this becomes operational, nobody can threaten us,” he said.

The Hugo Chavez National Fuel Storage Facility sits on seven acres of land, valued at approximately EC$3.5 million. The total project value is EC$90 million and was funded through a Joint Venture Company set up by the governments of Venezuela and St Vincent and the Grenadines. While this country provided the land for the facility, grants through PetroCaribe were used to construct the storage plant.

The storage facility has capacity for a combined 34,000 barrels of diesel, gasoline, Jet A (jet fuel) and LPG –- 20,000 barrels of diesel; 10,000 barrels of gasoline; 2,000 barrels of jet fuel; 2,000 barrels of LPG (the equivalent of 16,000 10 kg cylinders).

Vice-president of Venezuela, Jorge Arreaza and his wife, Rosa Chavez — the late president Hugo Chavez’s daughter — visited St Vincent and the Grenadines this week to be a part of the event. In brief remarks, Arreaza noted that the opening was a small part of former Venezuelan president’s dream for the people of Latin America and the Caribbean.

“He (Hugo Chavez) taught us that our energy resources were not only for our Venezuelan people, but also for all the people from the Caribbean and Latin America and even Africa overseas,” the vice-president said.

Chavez’s son-in-law observed that the former president was a Christian and like God, took care of the weak, the poor and the hungry.

Referring to PetroCaribe, the vice-president declared that this project “is good business for us all,” as Venezuela would also benefit when St Vincent and the Grenadines purchases diesel, gasoline and jet fuel from the oil-rich country.

President of PetroCaribe and the ALBA Bank Bernado Alvarez declared that it was fitting for the facility to be named after Chavez, as it was a part of his vision and persistence as it related to PetroCaribe, which seeks to provide countries with energy security.

He also took the opportunity to thank the many Venezuelans who travelled to St Vincent three weeks ago to finish the project in time for the vice-president’s visit.

The earthworks for this storage facility began in 2008.

Because of the risks associated with the storage of hydrocarbons, the facility has been outfitted with several systems to help mitigate these risks. These include fire and gas/fume detection systems throughout the plant, which will provide visible and audible alarms in the event of an abnormal condition.

Additionally, there is a 9,000 gallon fire water storage tank that also has foam generating devices to fight fires. This tank is also connected to VINLEC’s fire water storage tank, in the event that additional water is required.(BK)