On June 14, Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) is scheduled to hold the inauguration ceremony for the Rio de Janeiro-Belo Horizonte Gas Pipeline II (Gasbel II), a development that will increase the natural gas transport capacity to Minas Gerais to 12.9 million cubic meters per day.
Until December last year, Minas only had one gas pipeline, Gasbel I, which went online in 1994 and was capable of transporting 3.15 million cubic meters of the product per day. Operations being kicked off at two new pipelines this year - the Paulínia-Jacutinga, in January, and now Gasbel II - allow the state to receive four times more natural gas than it could in the past 16 years. The pipeline network serving the state was doubled, from 357 km to 717 km in length.
A project carried out under the federal government's Growth Acceleration Program (GAP), Gasbel II is 267 km long, 18 inches in diameter, and capable of carrying five million cubic meters of natural gas per day. With an investment of R$1.28 billion and generating 21,900 direct and indirect jobs, the pipeline, which connects Volta Redonda (state of Rio de Janeiro) to Queluzito (state of Minas Gerais), increases the natural gas carrying capacity to the Belo Horizonte Metropolitan Region (RMBH) and to the so-called "Steel Valley," which also concentrates mining, steel, and pulp industries.
Gasbel II also ensures natural gas supply for the simultaneous operation of the Aureliano Chaves (226MW), located in the Belo Horizonte metropolitan area, and Juiz de Fora (87 MW) power plants which, together, require 1.5 million cubic meters of natural gas per day to run. This means greater reliability for the electrical system and more energy security for the state, which holds strategic importance in the Brazilian economy.
In addition to the main line, the construction of Gasbel II included the installation of three compression services and three natural gas delivery points. The Tapinhoã Station (Estap) and Mantiqueira Station (Esman) compression services were installed, respectively, in Rio das Flores (state of Rio de Janeiro) and Santos Dumont (state of Minas Gerais), to replace the existing Gasbel I compression services. Additionally, the Congonhas Compression Service was installed in this gas pipeline in the municipality of São Brás Suaçuí (state of Minas Gerais). Finally, the Betim II, São Brás Suaçuí, and Brumadinho delivery points were installed, all three along the route of the pipeline.
Expanding the transportation network in Minas Gerais is a fundamental part of Petrobras' project to drive the growth of the natural gas industry in Brazil. Over the past seven years, the country's pipeline network has been expanded and integrated by means of the Gasene, the Southeast-Northeast integration gas pipeline, inaugurated in March. In December 2002, there were 5,607 km. Next December, there will be 9,626 km.
The expansion of the network in Southeastern Brazil allows the natural gas to be transported by Gasbel II to come from multiple sources of supply. From the domestic production, the natural gas to be supplied to Minas Gerais can come from the Campos and Espírito Santo basins and from the Santos Basin when the Caraguatatuba-Taubaté (Gastau) gas pipeline is completed.
Natural gas imported from Bolivia, transported over the Gasbol, or from other countries, by means of the LNG Regasification Terminal in the Guanabara Bay (state of Rio de Janeiro), inaugurated in March 2009, can also supply the Minas Gerais market.