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Construction begins on El Salvador's 1st LNG-fueled power plant

Power plant builder Wärtsilä Oyj Abp said Jan. 8 that it has begun construction on a power plant in El Salvador that will be fueled by liquefied natural gas, diversifying the Central American country's energy supply mix.

The 378-MW power plant is being developed by Energía del Pacífico, a joint venture of Chicago-headquartered power plant developer Invenergy LLC and Quantum Energy SA de CV, comprised of Salvadoran investors, and includes a 45-km, 230-kV transmission line from the plant site at the port of Acajutla to connect the plant to the local grid. Energía del Pacífico says the project will require an investment of about $850 million and is expected to be in service in 2021.

Along with the power plant and electric transmission line, a floating LNG terminal and underwater pipeline to transport gas to the plant are being built as well. In spring 2017, Energía del Pacífico signed a sale and purchase agreement with a Royal Dutch Shell PLC unit, Shell International Trading Middle East Ltd., for gas. At the same time, Energía del Pacífico said it had 20-year contracts with El Salvador's electric distribution utilities for the output of the plant.

The power plant, Invenergy said in a March 2018 blog posting, will supply about one-third of El Salvador's electricity needs. Wartsila said about half of El Salvador's current generating capacity is oil-fired, and the introduction of the LNG-fueled plant will both reduce electricity prices and emissions of pollutants.