Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley speaks with Head of Community Relations at NGC and former Olympic 100m champion Hasely Crawford during the TT Energy Conference 2020, Hyatt Regency, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain yesterday.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has announced that T&T and Venezuela have rescinded their agreement to jointly exploit 10 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Loran Manatee field and would instead develop it independently.

In a wide ranging address at the opening ceremony of the Energy Chamber’s Annual Energy Conference being held at the Hyatt Hotel in Port of Spain, Dr Rowley also announced yesterday that “it is regrettable that we cannot move ahead with the Dragon Project which is on hold, at this time, due to US sanctions on Venezuela.”

He said this country was ready “at a moment’s notice,” to move ahead with the project “on the lifting of such restrictions since virtually all the preparatory work has been done.”

Notwithstanding, this he said “we are proceeding with the Manatee initiative which is the single most significant development in the energy sector in recent times.”

Rowley said the continued US sanctions on the Bolivarian Republic had made it all but impossible to jointly develop the gas and as a result the two countries will go independently.

As a result, Royal Dutch Shell which is the 100 percent operator of the Manatee block has agreed to develop it and has already started planning its development.

Rowley noted that this should add between 275 to 400 million standard cubic feet of gas by 2024, which he said would be a game changer,

He explained that the gas will be in the shallow water and should be able to come on stream in fewer than five yeas.

In recent years there have been concern about declining natural gas and the impact it has had on this country. But the Prime Minister sounded a note of optimism saying he expected by 2024 the natural gas shortages will come to an end. He also forecast an increase in crude production to 90,000 barrels of oil per day by 2022 as BHP brings on its Ruby project.

PM Rowley told the conference that gas production is projected to come on stream from Manatee field, which forms a part of the Loran- Manatee cross-border field and is located in the marine area of T&T.

The Loran-Manatee is a shallow-water field that straddles the maritime boundary between Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.

Rowley said exploration activity, initially by state owned Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and later by US Corporation Chevron, which holds a 60 per cent interest, encountered a substantial amount of gas in the Loran field. In 2005 Chevron/BG, which held a joint interest of 50 per cent each in the Block 6 comprising Sub-Block 6b and Sub-Block 6d, discovered the Manatee field in Block 6d. Chevron subsequently sold its interest in Block 6 to Shell which now has 100 per cent interest in the block, the PM added.

“Shell has sanctioned this development and is currently gearing up to build the infrastructure to produce from this cross-border field in keeping with the schedule as just mentioned,” Rowley noted.

In 2007, T&T and Venezuela executed a Framework Treaty relating to the unitization of hydrocarbon reservoirs that extend across the delimitation line between the countries.

The Treaty established the general framework under which any cross-border reservoir would be exploited.

Rowley also noted that despite the strides made by the Caribbean, in its penetration of sustainable energy sources, renewable energy systems account for a small fraction of the region’s untapped potential.

“It is estimated that the Caribbean holds 2,525 MW of potential solar energy, 800 MW of potential wind energy, and 3,770 MW of potential geothermal energy. “

“These resources, if harnessed, would displace approximately 2.7 million barrels of oil per year and save Caribbean countries US$5.0 billion in fuel imports per annum,” Rowley added.

He said given the potential savings Caribbean countries have established ambitious targets in the implementation of renewable energy systems.

In addition the PM noted that financial aid from donor countries and institutions, the falling costs of renewable energy technology and improvement in the efficiency have made these targets somewhat achievable.

Rowley said this country, temporarily insulated from high energy costs by virtue of its hydrocarbon resources, has been measured in its approach to renewable energy.

“This in part is to ensure that citizens of Trinidad and Tobago are not burdened by the transformation costs on the conversion to renewable energy systems.”

“ Having cancelled our attempts at economic diversification in the form of manufacturing of aluminium products, we are left, at this time, with substantial quantity of surplus installed power which has to be paid for but for which there is no immediate market,” Rowley said.

This condition, he added, makes investment in renewables a little tricky however, he said T&T has not given up on the need to join in with this future prospect.

Rowley added that Trinidad and Tobago is also poised to participate in the exploitation of hydrocarbon in the marine areas off the Guyanas.

“Our claim to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf is expected to be presented this year and if successful would extend our maritime jurisdiction seawards to areas in close proximity to the Guyana-Suriname Basin,” Rowley added.