by Kumar David Courtesy The Island
There has been a news blackout on the liquid natural gas (LNG) deal that Basil Rajapaksa’s Ministry has entered into with the American company New Fortress Energy (NFE). The Sunday Island Editorial last week 26 September expressed concern about lack of transparency of facts and secrecy in negotiations. The deal is a response to an unsolicited bid” is the official line but how much soliciting and wheeler-dealing went on no one will never know. The negotiations though commenced when Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was Finance Minister. I am not picking on the deal because it’s an American company, not at all. I am expressing disquiet about negotiating conduct, technical issues and potential long-term implications.
Before pitching into the topic I will define that ugly acronym FSRu&P (Floating Storage and Regasification unit & Pipelines). Natural gas globally is the fossil fuel of choice to replace King Coal. There is much disputation about whether one or two final coal-fired power stations will be built in Lanka in the next 15 years, but natural gas will be the eventual successor. Once released from the bowels of the earth, gas can be piped across continents. When chilled to very low temperatures it liquefies, ready for confinement in strong containers that can be brought into your kitchen or transported thousands of miles in huge tankers.
When a tanker arrives the FSRu&P game starts. Tankers can dock at a harbour…