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Operations and major projects

Juan Vazquez becomes the new Chairman of Dunkerque LNG and of Gaz-Opale

02/07/19

On 15 April 2019, Juan Vazquez was appointed Chairman of Dunkerque LNG and of Gaz-Opale, thereby succeeding Béatrice Prud’homme. It is an opportunity for us to look back on his career and discuss with him the short-term projects and challenges of the LNG terminal.

Juan Vazquez, an engineer who graduated from Université Libre de Bruxelles, is 55 years of age. He started his career as a research assistant in the university’s electrical engineering department before joining Siemens Belgium. After spending two years in a pan-European telecommunications company, at the end of 2001, Juan Vazquez joined Fluxys, the gas transport and storage infrastructure operator in Belgium and the operator of the Zeebrugge LNG terminal. Juan Vazquez managed several departments within Fluxys, including metering and engineering, before taking responsibility for the Group's Swiss subsidiary in 2012. As from 2014, he managed Fluxys’ IT services subsidiary while also being responsible for the general management of Gas.be, the Belgian gas association. When Fluxys became the majority shareholder of the LNG terminal, Juan Vazquez took over responsibility for the terminal’s general management at the end of 2018, before being appointed Chairman of Dunkerque LNG and of Gaz-Opale in April.

Regarding the short- and medium-term development of the LNG terminal, Juan Vazquez mentions three possible avenues. First, the new chairman would like all of the terminal’s regasification capacity to be marketed. "Today, our clients have purchased an annual capacity of 10 billion m3 (or bcm - billion cubic meters), which they may or may not use. This ensures they enjoy great flexibility. However, our facility can take additional tankers, representing an equivalent capacity of 2 to 3 bcm. Our sales teams are therefore currently working with all market players to offer this capacity, knowing that we would prefer one or more clients who agree to commit themselves over the long term, namely, 15 to 20 years, in order to give us some visibility," explains Juan Vazquez.

Secondly, the chairman intends to consolidate "small scale" activities on the LNG terminal. "Small scale" activity is understood to mean, on the one hand, the loading of LNG tank trucks to supply LNG-powered tankers by road or service stations and, on the other, the supply of LNG-powered tankers directly by sea. "With regards to the energy transition process that the world is starting to implement, LNG, which pollutes far less than heavy fuel oil, emerges as the marine fuel of the future. That is why we are investing in these two new activities. We recently completed the construction of the tank-truck filling station, which will eventually be able to fill up to 3,000 trucks per year. If the market proves to be as buoyant as we expect it to be, two other wharves could be created to increase our capacity to 9,000 trucks per year in the medium term. We are also going to adapt our jetty and its equipment so that it can receive LNG supply ships that are smaller than the LNG tankers that usually dock at the jetty."

Thirdly and finally, the LNG terminal aims to seize all of the development opportunities that arise from the market’s expansion, as well as from the needs of its present or future clients. The extension of transhipment capacities thanks to, for example, the LNG produced in Yamal, Siberia, could be one such example. "It is worth noting that the north of Siberia is blocked by ice for seven to nine months of the year. Consequently, LNG can only be transported using ice-breaker LNG tankers whose purchase and maintenance costs are far higher than those of conventional LNG tankers. Ice-breaker LNG tankers are therefore only used when absolutely necessary. Hence the benefit of having, along the route, a terminal where LNG can be unloaded from an ice-breaker LNG tanker and then reloaded on to a conventional tanker so that the LNG can be transported to its final destination," explains Juan Vazquez. However, other development options exist, such as receiving gas from Qatar after the country decides to significantly increase its liquefaction capacity. There are many other examples.

Article présenté sur la lettre d'information : Juillet 2019

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