The National Petroleum Corporation has embarked on an intensified $10 million natural gas pipe replacement project.
General Manager of the NPC, James Browne, told Barbados TODAY this morning that about 35,000 feet of aged pipes needed to be replaced, even as the demand for natural gas reached overwhelming proportions.
Browne said work had already started on two miles of pipe at Orange Hill, St. James, 1,300 feet of pipe at Warrens and Graeme Hall in Christ Church.of pipe at Warrens and Graeme Hall in Christ Church.
He revealed that a study was being carried out at Dunscombe, St. Thomas to determine the feasibility of changing the pipe there too.
“We’re still on the Warrens project. That’s another miles of work. We have a pipeline that runs from Warrens to St. Andrew. A phase of that was the Orange Hill to St. Andrew phase. We have finished that now and we’re still working on the Warrens to the Bagatelle phase,” the NPC boss stated.
Browne said of the more than 30,000 feet or over six miles of pipe to be removed, about 10,000 had already been completed. He could not say when the project would finish, in that his agency was working with the Ministry of Transport and Works on the highway.
Browne noted that the corporation was operating with strict financial constraints and still had to try to meet the demands for gas. The NPC general manager pointed out that the company had been receiving a monthly average of 60 applications, but that recently that had increased to about 80.
He said the goal of the government corporation was to expand its network, but in the meantime, to ensure that its integrity was not compromised. That was why, he reasoned, the company needed to replace the old pipes, some of which dated back well into the 1900s.
He said that the NPC at present supplied about 18 per cent of the local natural gas needs of the island. Browne explained there were about 20,000 residential and 700 commercial customers. He explained that their greatest challenge was trying to meet the needs of all stakeholders within a tight budget.
He said too that there were 11 vehicles in Barbados being fuelled by natural gas. Browne disclosed that a study was being conducted on a much wider use of natural gas in vehicles, a commodity that was about 60 per cent cheaper than other fossil fuels.
He noted that in spite of the challenging economic times, the NPC had been able to retain its 120 employees. (EJ)