Natural Gas to Petrochemicals Complex, Union Industrial Estate, La Brea, Trinidad and Tobago


The Natural Gas to Petrochemicals Complex project involves the construction of a petrochemicals complex at the Union Industrial Estate in La Brea, Trinidad and Tobago, to produce methanol and dimethyl ether (DME) using natural gas as feedstock.

The project is owned by a consortium of Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company (MGC, 26.25%), Mitsubishi Corporation (MC, 26.25%), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI, 17.5%), National Gas Company (20%) and Massy Holdings (10%).

"The DME facility will be the first of its kind in Trinidad and Tobago, whereas the methanol plant will be the eighth facility of its kind in the country."

Caribbean Gas Chemical (CGCL), a local company formed by the consortium, will develop and operate the plant. The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) are being performed by MHI.

The project development agreement (PDA) was signed in April 2013 and finalised in April 2015, the construction began in September 2015 and is expected to be completed in late 2018, and commissioning will be completed in early 2019.

The DME facility will be the first of its kind in Trinidad and Tobago, whereas the methanol plant will be the eighth facility of its kind in the country. The project is expected to generate approximately 2,000 jobs during the peak construction period and 200 permanent jobs when operational.


The overall investment for the Natural Gas to Petrochemicals Complex project is expected to be $1bn. The project is being co-financed by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU), who are together providing a loan of $693m. Milbank was the lenders' adviser.

Natural Gas to Petrochemicals Complex project details

The project site will cover an area of approximately 50ha, leased from the National Energy Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (National Energy).

The project will involve the construction and installation of facilities to produce one million metric tonnes a year (Mt/y) of methanol and 100,000t a year of dimethyl ether (DME) using approximately 100 million standard cubic feet a day (Mmscfd) of natural gas as feedstock.

The project will also involve the construction of a desalination plant with a processing capacity of 16,500m³ a day. The desalinated plant will provide both process and cooling water, whereas potable water will be supplied by Trinidad and Tobago's Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA).

The electricity required for the plant will be supplied by the Trinidad And Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC), while a backup diesel generator will also be installed at the site.

Feedstock supply and product storage and export details

Natural gas for the project will be supplied via an existing pipeline located at the site by National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago (NGC). The products from the complex will be conveyed to the Brighton Port via a pipeline, for export by ships.

Methanol produced at the site will be marketed worldwide by MGC, MC and Massy, whereas DME produced by the plant is proposed to be used as a substitute for diesel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean countries.

The State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic's (SOCAR) proposed OGPC will be located near Sangachal terminal, approximately 60km south of Baku.

The DME reserved for local use will be stored in trailers and tank containers at a loading station onsite, while methanol will be stored in three storage tanks at the site.

Methanol and DME processing technologies

The project will integrate a five-stage process to produce methanol. Stage one will involve desulphurisation, where sulphur compounds in natural gas will be reduced. Stage two will involve the reforming of the feedstock using steam. The reformed gas will be cooled and compressed using a compressor in stage three.

Stage four will involve methanol synthesis of the reformed gas using a copper-based catalyst. The synthesised gas will be preheated and then cooled. Water and crude methanol will be separated, and the crude methanol will be conveyed to a distillation unit where organic impurities will be removed in the final stage.

The DME production facility will use a three-stage process starting with DME synthesis using a catalyst. The second stage will involve the purification of the DME and the final stage will involve the effluent recovery, wherein methanol is further conveyed to the DME synthesis section and wastewater conveyed to the wastewater treatment unit.

Contractors involved with the petrochemicals project

Rapid Environmental Assessments, Senes Consultants and Coastal Dynamics prepared the project's environmental impact assessment (EIA).