According to researchers, the State that is called the “breadbasket of Brazil” has the potential for substituting the use of electricity, diesel, and, fuel oil by two million mt³ of natural gas in the three sectors that use the most energy

A team from the FAPESP Shell Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI) performed a feasibility study regarding substituting diesel oil, fuel oil, and electricity by natural gas, transported as Liquid Natural Gas (LNG), in the State of Mato Grosso (MT). The LNG would be distributed on a small scale, according to the premise of the researchers who are involved with the RCGI’s Project 26, which is coordinated by Professor Edmilson Moutinho dos Santos. By applying substitution potential estimation methodologies and LNG transport costing tools, the group identified how much of this energy source could be substituted by natural gas in three sectors of economic activity: farming, transportation, and industry.

“We concluded that there is a potential volume of natural gas of 2.1 million mt3 per day to substitute diesel, fuel oil, and electricity in the economic sectors that were studied, and most of the substitution potential is in farming. Electricity and diesel are the most likely to be replaced, because the consumption of those energy sources is very significant and the cost of transporting LNG was shown to be competitive. Substituting fuel oil was less competitive, because the price and volume consumed in the State of Mato Grosso are lower than the other two energy sources that were evaluated,” stated Dorival Santos Jr., Master’s degree student of the Institute for Energy and the Environment of the University of São Paulo (IEE/USP), who is also a researcher on Moutinho’s team.

The biggest substitution rate found was for diesel oil in the farming sector (potential for absorbing approximately 1,2 million mt³/day, which could be used in the grain drying process, for instance); followed by diesel oil in the transportation sector (500,000 mt³/day). Santos says that the focus of the study was to answer several questions, such as: what is the volume of the substitution, where it could be done, and what it would cost, which includes not only purchasing the natural gas, but also the processes for liquefying natural gas, its transportation in trucks, and the storage and regasification of the LNG for consumption.

Small-scale natural gas is characterized by the capacity of the liquefaction and regasification plants. Small-scale means a capacity ranging from 320,000 mt3/day to 3.2 million mt3/day (in trucks with capacity for transporting from 30 to 60 mt3). By dividing the State into five micro-regions, according to the official IBGE division, the scientists visualized a geocentric point in each of them, equidistant from the plants that represent the main local economic activities and with access to highways. “We work as though all of the energy consumption takes places at those points, which is not real, but it is a strategy for making a first estimate.”

Breadbasket of Brazil – According to Santos, the State of Mato Grosso was chosen, because it has several specific features. It is the nation’s largest producer of soy beans, cotton, corn, and beef. Its GDP ranks 13th among the Federal units. And there is a gas pipeline, approximately 280 km long, called the Lateral-Cuiabá Gas Pipeline, connecting Bolivia with the capital city of the State of Mato Grosso, Cuiabá. “It is a branch of the Gasbol, with a capacity for transporting approximately four million mt³/day, which comes out of Bolivia and goes to the “city gate” of Cuiabá, to the Mario Covas Thermoelectric Plant, with a 400 MW capacity.
The researcher says that practically all of the natural gas that comes through this branch is destined to supply the thermoelectric plant, which was bought in 2015 by the J&F Group and is currently in a state of “hibernation” due to legal complications.

The idea of the RCGI team is that natural gas would arrive in Cuiabá through the pipeline, be liquefied right there, at the “city gate”, and from there, be transported by highway to the points chosen in the State’s five large regions. In order to be consumed, the natural gas must be regasified. “This regasification process could take place either at the central points of the five mesoregions or directly at the establishments consuming the natural gas,” Santos explained.

In order to stimulate the substitution potential of the use of natural gas in the State of Mato Grosso, the team analyzed the energy balance of the State as published by the Planning Department. “Today, approximately 60% of the fuel consumed in the State of Mato Grosso is derived from petroleum, which is acquired from other producing States. The fact that the State has a significant frontier with Bolivia, which has the largest natural gas reserves in South America, and that it already has a gas pipeline built to its State Capital represents a logistical advantage for locally increasing the consumption of natural gas. We must remember that besides these logistical prerogatives, natural gas holds environmental advantages over the other fossil fuels,” Santos stated.

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