Port of Spain – The Trinidad & Tobago government defended its decision to hold high level talks with major oil and energy companies in Europe.
Prime Minister Keith Rowley said on Monday that it was necessary to meet with those officials who are making decisions in a changing global environment characterised by tightening of finances for oil and energy production.
“I am pleased with the responses from those who make the decisions with respect to investment in T&T,” he told a news conference.
The prime minister, who led a two-member delegation that included his Energy and Energy Industries minister Stuart Young for talks with the energy giants in the United Kingdom and Switzerland told reporters that “there is tremendous pressure now internationally with respect to production in oil and gas and funding and marketing places and so on”.
“We as a country where the government, not the local private sector, is in fact the player in T&T among these international companies,” Rowley said.
“It’s the government’s decision that will determine how T&T comes out of this environment and we are seeking to make the best of the opportunities and to stave off the deleterious developments that could harm us in the medium and the long term.”
The prime minister told reporters that T&T’s oil and gas production in recent years declined significantly and that production systems around the world were also being challenged with the market place now being “where certain critical decisions are to be made now”.
“The most critical decisions we are facing in T&T are decisions with respect to expenditure on new explorations,” he said. “There is huge competition for exploration dollars, and if we sit idly by and wait for something to happen in our favour, it is quite possible that certain decisions, which are critical to us, may not be made in our favour.
“They may be postponed, shelved or abandoned completely (and) in order for us to prevent that happening and to ensure that the decisions are made where we are not left out, the shift that we have made is to ensure those who make those decisions … that they make decisions knowing that the government and people of T&T are anxious for these decisions to be made and they are made in our favour and not being made with us being on the outside.”
Rowley said it is against that background that he was very pleased that T&T was well positioned for a continuation of the investment profiles of three companies operating in T&T that are critical to the economy.
The T&T delegation held talks with the Switzerland-based energy company, Proman that Port of Spain said had reiterated a commitment to invest an estimated U.S. $1.1 billion over the next 10 years for major plant maintenance turnarounds.
The prime minister said that the discussions with BP were critical to the country’s energy future, while talks with Shell were critical because it had become a major player in the two-island republic due to its acquisition in a liquefied natural gas (LNG) business.
Rowley said overall predictions are that by 2028, the levels of gas that will be available here, if no new improvements are made will have far reaching consequences for government revenues and for the quality of life of all the people in T&T.
“That is why we have been working overtime to ensure that the projections are turned around and it could only be turned around by new investments and successful production in new gas fields,” the prime minister said.
“The fields that we are exploiting now, which are producing gas for us now, it is a declining arrangement with every day you extract 2.9 billion cubic feet that is 2.9 billion cubic feet less in the field and of course it goes to zero in a known time frame.”