Brazil activates Amazon gas pipeline

Nov 30, 2009 01:00 AM

Brazilian state-controlled energy company Petrobras has activated a 661-km (410-mile) natural gas pipeline in the Amazon jungle, part of a plan to power the city of Manaus' thermoelectric plants with cleaner-burning fuel.
"The gas is here so we can carry out a small revolution in the energy matrix of Brazil's northern region, to have clean electricity," President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said in a ceremony to inaugurate the Urucu-Coari-Manaus gas pipeline.

At present, the thermoelectric plants that supply electricity to Manaus, a city of 1.8 mm inhabitants, and other areas of north-western Brazil run on diesel fuel, which is a major source of air pollution.
The pipeline will initially transport 4.1 mm cm (144.5 mm cf) per day of natural gas from the Urucu field in the Amazon jungle to Manaus, the largest city in Amazonas state. Urucu has an estimated 52.8 bn cm (1.9 tcf) of proven gas reserves, the country's second largest.

The Urucu-Manaus pipeline will allow Manaus' seven thermoelectric plants, which currently use diesel to produce 725 MW of electricity and supply a city that is not connected to the national grid, to run on a less-polluting and cheaper fuel. The switch will reduce carbon-dioxide emissions in Manaus by close to 30 %, or roughly 1.2 mm tons of carbon-dioxide emissions per year.
The gas pipeline, a complex engineering project that cost 4.5 bn reais ($ 2.62 bn), was built with cutting-edge technology designed to ensure its impact on the world's largest jungle is kept to a minimum, Petrobras' project-implementation manager, Marcelo Restum, told.

The pipeline's current capacity is 5.5 mm cm (193.8 mm cf) per day, but once new compressor stations are installed Petrobras will be able to increase capacity to 10 mm cmpd in the future.
The Isaac Sabba refinery, Petrobras' main thermoelectric plant in the Amazon region, began receiving the gas from Urucu, and the company estimates that by next September all the Manaus plants will be adapted to run on the new fuel. In addition to the main pipeline to Manaus, additional branches will transport natural gas to seven other cities in the Amazon region: Coari, Codajas, Anori, Anama, Caapiranga, Manacapuru and Iranduba.

According to Restum, several technological innovations were required due to widely varying water levels and the intense humidity and rainfall in that remote region, among other factors.
To cope with those obstacles, Petrobras laid the pipeline within river beds and used special helicopters to transport the pipes to the construction sites.

Source / EFE
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