Cuba in talks to install more Turkish power barges

  • : Crude oil, Electricity, Oil products
  • 20/12/02

Turkey's Karpowership is in talks with Cuba to install additional thermal power barges to support three that are now delivering 10pc of the island's electricity, the company told Argus.

The three floating thermal generating units are berthed in the northern port of Mariel, 40km (24.8mi) west of Havana, and are using heavy fuel oil to supply state-owned utility UNE.

The Barış Bey and Esra Sultan barges started operating in Mariel in July 2019, and the Ela Sultan started up in November 2019, expanding contract capacity with UNE up to 184MW.

UNE has not responded to a request for comment. Cuba routinely experiences blackouts, partly because of spotty delivery of imported fuel for UNE's oil-fired plants.

Some of Cuba's Soviet-era plants burn domestic heavy crude, and others use diesel. Cuba has 5.87GW of installed generating capacity, of which 3.2GW is operational, according to UNE.

Venezuela's state-owned PdV supplies crude and refined products to Cuba under an opaque two-decade-old barter agreement between Havana and Caracas. But PdV's own crude production has plummeted in recent years and its refineries are mostly broken.

Cuba still receives some Venezuelan oil aboard PdV-owned tankers that regularly shuttle back and forth to the island despite US sanctions aimed at thwarting the trade. But neither the government nor state-owned oil company Cupet has disclosed the volumes and make-up of the supplies.

Venezuela's US-backed political opposition regularly decries the supply to Cuba as a giveaway of the Opec country's resources. It is not clear if the Turkish barges are using Venezuelan fuel oil.

The negotiations between UNE and Karpowership are currently paused because of the Covid-19 pandemic but will be resumed "as soon as possible," Karpowership said.

Next stop Haiti

Elsewhere in the Caribbean, Karpowership is "in the final stages" of contract negotiations with Haiti's state-owned utility EdH for deploying two barges with 115MW of capacity.

The barges will double EdH's generation, EdH director general Michel Présumé has told Argus.

The barges will be installed in 2021 and the generators will be fired by heavy fuel oil "with an intention of switching to LNG before the expiration of the contract," Karpowership said.

Karpowership has also been in discussion with other Latin American and Caribbean prospective partners, the company said, without naming any of the countries.

"We will be able to provide details on other partnerships as and when conversations advance," the company said.

Karpowership is part of Istanbul-based Karadeniz Energy Group.

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