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Argentinian power plant operating on Wärtsilä 31SG engines fuelled by associated gas begins commercial operations

A 58 MW power plant supplied and constructed in Argentina by the technology group Wärtsilä under a full engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract has commenced commercial operations in the end of March. The Central Térmica Manantiales Behr plant has been built for YPF Luz, a part of YPF S.A, one of Argentina’s leading oil and gas sector companies. The facility is located in a major oil field, and the power plant operates on gas from the oil production operations.

The original order was placed in 2018 and construction work was executed under the following two years, meeting with all oil and gas industry specific permit procedures, complex standards and compliance requirements. Safety protocols required by Covid-19 pandemic during the last 12 months have significantly slowed down construction work at the site. Overcoming these challenges has been a major accomplishment for Wärtsilä.

The Manantiales Behr basin location is also challenging since local wind speeds can reach 180 km/hour, and temperatures can range between minus 10 and plus 40 degrees Celsius. Reliability of supply is, therefore, of prime importance, since the plant provides the energy required for the oil production. To ensure this reliability, the design features five highly efficient Wärtsilä 31SG gas-fuelled engines, making this the world’s largest power plant operating with Wärtsilä 31SG engines. The new plant has replaced an existing power plant with less efficient technology.

Wärtsilä has also been awarded a ten-year long-term service agreement, and will also provide operational advisory support for four years.

“Among the many challenges that had to be faced was the fact that the fuel for the engines is gas supplied at very low pressure from the oil fields. Fortunately, our technology is able to burn this special gas very efficiently utilising a gas compression plant to increase the pressure, making it suitable for fuel injection,” commented Jorge Alcaide, Energy Business Director, Region South, Americas, Wärtsilä Energy.

The customer also operates a wind farm at the same location, and the thermal plant complements and balances the energy generated by it as an integrated hybrid operation. The fast starting and stopping capabilities of the Wärtsilä 31SG engines provide the necessary flexibility to ensure a continuous reliable supply under all weather conditions.

Wärtsilä currently has 600 MW of installed generating capacity in Argentina, and 3,630 MW of capacity throughout South America. With the Central Térmica Manantiales Behr plant included, Wärtsilä has successfully completed eight projects on time and on budget during the past four years in Argentina.

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