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Mott MacDonald wins Panama contract

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LNG Industry,

Mott MacDonald has announced that it is acting as lenders’ independent engineer for the new AES Colón combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant and LNG terminal in Panama.

The 380 MW project is being developed by AES Corp. and the Motta Group through its subsidiaries Gas Natural Atlántico S. de R.L. and Costa Norte LNG Terminal. It comprises a dual fuel CCGT plant, adjacent LNG import and export terminal and a 180 000 m³ storage facility.

AES Colón is being built by POSCO on a 20 ha. site near the Atlantic entrance of the Panama Canal in the city of Colón.

The power station will connect to the national grid via a transmission line, with a capacity to supply up to 3000 GWh/yr. Three distribution companies will purchase 350 MW of capacity and associated energy under 10-year power purchase agreements awarded through a bidding process led by state-owned transmission company, Empresa de Transmisión Eléctrica Panameña (ETESA). The remaining capacity and energy will be sold on Panama’s wholesale electricity market.

Mott MacDonald initially performed a comprehensive technical due diligence for the project, which led to its appointment as independent engineer for the construction, commissioning and operational phases. This role will include desktop and on-site reviews of the project’s construction progress, evaluation of applications for drawdown of funds from the loan, assessments of actual vs forecast expenditures and appraisals of engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor change orders and permitting status. The consultancy will also review punch lists towards the end of the construction period and be on-site to witness the performance tests.

Mott MacDonald’s UK oil and gas advisory team is leading the project and providing all input relating to the LNG import facility. Its thermal generation specialists are offering input for the power plant elements, with its US ports, coastal and offshore team providing guidance on the maritime aspects. Additionally, the consultancy’s hydropower and renewables team is providing support on reviewing the permitting status.

Albert Allan, Managing Director of Mott MacDonald's oil and gas business, said: “Panama has historically relied on fuel oil and hydropower to generate electricity. Due to price and weather-related volatility, AES opted for a natural gas solution that is opening the use of gas in the coming years for generation projects, bunkering, industrial and residential use.”

"By providing a reliable supply of LNG, AES Colón should benefit sectors such as electricity generation, transportation and ship bunkering. It will also play a major part in the country's ambition to move away from reliance upon traditional oil-fired plants to generating power from cleaner fuels."

Construction of AES Colón is underway, with first power expected to be delivered in 2018.

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