PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Apr 12, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley said that his recent talks with senior oil executives in the United States “will go a long way towards cementing Trinidad and Tobago’s continued role as a place for investment in the hydrocarbon industry”.
Rowley told Parliament that soon after his People’s National Movement (PNM) party came to power in September 2015, it was faced with having to renegotiate a multi-billion dollar bill facing the state-owned national gas Company (NCG) as a result of its inability to meet its contractual obligations t0o several companies.
“What the government and in particular, NGC faced at the end of 2015 was the “perfect storm”. NGC was faced with shortages of gas supplies from upstream gas producers and claims being made against it by downstream gas users, with expired contracts having to be re-negotiated with both upstreamers and downstreamers.”
Rowley said that the failure by the former People’s Partnership government to deal with the gas shortages during the 2011 to 2015 period resulted in billions of dollars in claims for gas curtailments being made against NGC.
“The total claims against NGC stood at about TTD$4.5345 billion (One TT dollar =US$0.16 cents). By December 2015, 10 weeks after the installation of a new Government was sworn in, further contracts expired between NGC and other MHTL plants,” he added.
He said faced with this critical situation his administration reconstituted, reconvened and operated an Energy Sub-Committee of the Cabinet which he chaired and contained all relevant and willing talent within the public service, The State enterprise Sector and further afield.
But he told legislators that the government and NGC have been actively engaged in negotiations with both upstream gas suppliers and downstream entities, including those who commenced litigation against NGC and that prior to his visit to Houston the main outstanding issues were the agreement of prices for future gas, and the volumes of available gas.
Rowley told legislators that “the successful agreements coming out of this short but well-planned and well-timed face to face meetings at the highest levels between the government of Trinidad and Tobago and foreign investors represented by the senior decision-making executives of BP, SHELL, EXXON and EOG, impact on some of the immediate challenges, settle the medium term and keep us in the long term of the oil and gas business.
“This will go a long way towards cementing Trinidad and Tobago’s continued role as a place for investment in the hydrocarbon industry as compared to one where reserves are running out and plant closures are the inevitable outcome.”
He said it is now for all of this country’s leadership at every level whether it be government, business or labour “to act responsibly in our quest to secure these vital foreign investments so desperately needed to maintain our standard of living in this a small industrialised nation located in one of the most idyllic locations of the world.
“Don’t let anybody fool you, we have to be attractive in every which way to attract and secure foreign investment,” he added.