A group of four banks is lending US$208mn to Trinidad & Tobago’s National Gas Company (NGC) for a cross-country pipeline.

The loan represents 80% of the US$260mn project costs, and the banks offered a loan over 15 years. Details are being finalised and the deal can be made public at the end of July.

Construction started in January but was delayed by a strike. Finishing by the August 2005 target date is still possible, NGC’s president, Frank Look Kin, says, but to meet that date the company may have to open two work fronts instead of one, as well as hope for a break in the bad weather that has also slowed project progress.

The pipeline is one of the largest in the western hemisphere, and will take gas produced off Trinidad’s east coast from its landfall at Beachfield in Guayaguayare Bay to the fourth train at the Atlantic liquefied natural gas (LNG) complex at Point Fortin on the west coast.

NGC holds an 11.11% stake in Train 4 (T4), and in line with the T4 owners’ agreement will supply 11.11% of the gas, meaning that the pipeline is both a transporter and a shipper.

Without compression, pipeline capacity is 2.4bn cubic feet a day (bcf/d).