Trinidad, Mitsubishi sign petrochemical agreement

PORT OF SPAIN, April 8 Mon Apr 8, 2013 5:12pm EDT

PORT OF SPAIN, April 8 (Reuters) - Trinidad and Tobago and a Japanese-led consortium comprising Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company, Mitsubishi International Corp and Port of Spain-based Neal & Massy Holdings Ltd signed an agreement on Monday for the construction of an $850 million petrochemical complex.

In the first phase, with an expected 2016 start-up, the complex will boast annual production of 1 million tonnes of methanol and 100,000 tonnes of dimethyl ether, which can be used as a transportation fuel.

During phase two, the Mitsubishi consortium will consider the production of mono ethylene glycol, with output of engine coolants, polyester fiber and PET resin among likely byproducts.

Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine, seeking to allay concerns about dwindling natural gas supplies, said at a signing ceremony that an established natural gas supplier in Trinidad has advised that it could have gas available for the consortium by 2016.

Ramnarine said the twin-island Caribbean nation is currently engaged with consultants Ryder Scott in its natural gas audit for 2012. The results would be positively affected by BP's discovery of 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in its offshore Savonette 4 well last year, the minister said.

The Ryder Scott audit for 2011 indicated that Trinidad's proven natural gas reserves remained flat.