Marlim Azul Power Plant, first to generate electricity from pre-salt natural gas in Brazil

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Brazil’s Marlim Azul thermoelectric plant will reportedly begin commercial operations later this year (2023). This was recently revealed by the joint venture between Pátria InvestimentosShell and Mitsubishi Power.

Reportedly, the project is currently in its final testing phase.

Marlim Azul Power Plant Project Overview 

Marlim Azul Power Plant is also known as Usina Termelétrica Marlim Azul or Vale Azul. It is a 565MW gas-fired power facility that is under construction within the Macaé Logistics and Industrial Complex. The complex is located in the municipality of Macaé, approximately 200km north of the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is in close proximity to the Cabiunas Terminal (Tecab).

The project was developed by Marlim Azul Energia. The latter is a joint venture (JV) between Mitsubishi Power, Royal Dutch Shell plc (Shell), and Patria Investments (Patria), where Patria holds 50.1% interest while Shell and Mitsubishi Power own 29.9% and 20%, respectively.

Marlim Azul Power Plant components 

The Marlim Azul Power Plant, the cost of construction of which is approximately US$ 600M, will be powered by Mitsubishi’s M501JAC, an air-cooled gas turbine that was launched back in 2012.

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Weighing 347t, the M501JAC gas turbine has a rotational speed of 3,600 rpm. It provides a maximum power generating capacity of 435MW in simple-cycle and 630MW in combined-cycle operation wherein it provides the lowest carbon emissions per unit of power.

Other than the turbine, which is said to have an efficiency of more than 64% and a reliability rate of 99.6%, the Marlim Azul Power Plant has other components. These include a steam turbine, generator, boiler, cooling towers, gas station, and water treatment facility.

Upon completion, the Marlim Azul Power Plant shall generate enough electricity to meet the electricity needs of more than two million Brazilian households. it shall utilize natural gas supplied by Shell Brasil Petroleo, a Brazilian subsidiary of Shell, from its deep-water pre-salt basin operations, situated in offshore Brazil.

The gas shall be supplied through a 20km-long gas pipeline from the Cabiunas Onshore Terminal (Tecab), which receives natural gas from the pre-salt through the Route 2 sub-sea natural gas pipeline.

Marlim Azul Power Plant Project Team

Financed by Brazil’s National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES), the Marlim Azul Power Plant project has

Cobra Group is the project engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor overseeing the plant’s testing and commissioning services. Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) will manufacture, supply, and install turbines along with the ancillary equipment, and maintain and service the facilities for a period of 25 years.

Macoga Group on the other hand shall supply dog bone expansion joints that will serve as a flexible connection between the turbines and condensers while Zhengzhou Boiler Group shall manufacture and supply the boiler equipment. Complastec Company assembled the high-density polyethene (HDPE) pipes required for the project and Empresa Brasileira de Terraplanagem e Engenharia (EBTE) carried out earthworks at the Marlim Azul Power Plant construction site.

Lastly, Entrepose Intech was selected for the construction of the gas pipeline connecting Tecab to the power plant.

Marlim Azul Power Plant Project Timeline

Originally proposed to be developed by Vale Azul Energia and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems under project name Vale Azul II, Marlim Azul Power Plant was one of the projects that Brazil’s energy regulator, National Electrical Energy Agency (ANEEL), selected in an auction for power purchase in December 2017.

Vale Azul Energia, however, sold its stake in the project, as well as the environmental license, to Marlim Azul Energia, which led to the rename.

December 2019

Marlim Azul Energia secured financing for the project from Brazil’s state-owned bank, Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social (BNDES).

June 2021

Mitsubishi Power Americas, Inc. shipped an M501JAC gas turbine to the project’s site.

August 2021

With the arrival of the generator at the project site, the combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plant entered the equipment installation phase.