The Point Lisas Industrial Estate

Finance Minister Colm Imbert has again gotten his natural gas figures wrong, this time for fiscal year 2021.

The Business Guardian can confirm that based on figures from the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries, the average natural gas production for T&T for fiscal 2021 was closer to 2.6 billion standard cubic feet per day (bscf/d)and not the 2.77 bscf/d Imbert told the Parliament just over a month ago.

In delivering his budget presentation for the fiscal year 2022, Imbert told the House of Representatives: “We are stabilising our oil and condensate as well as gas production: natural gas production which decreased in 2020 is projected to rise in 2021 to 2.77 billion standard cubic feet and in 2022 to 3.37 billion standard cubic feet and thereafter to stabilise at 3.60 billion standard cubic feet.”

This is simply not true and based on the Ministry of Energy’s own data, impossible to achieve.

On November 5, months after it was due, and long after completion of the budget debate in the Parliament, the Ministry of Energy finally released the production figures up to July 2021.

When one takes into account the reported production figures from October 2020 to July 2021, the first ten months of the 2021 fiscal year, the average production was 2.616 billion standard cubic feet per day, well below the 2.77 billion standard cubic feet per day predicted by the Finance Minister. A daily shortfall of 177 million standard cubic feet (mmscf/d).

To get to the 2.77 bscf/d the BG calculates it would have required production in August and September to average 3.539 bscf/d. This did not occur. In fact the natural gas constraints have grown even worse over the last two months with at least two of the largest upstream natural gas producers having challenges.

The Business Guardian has been told that both Atlantic LNG and the downstream petrochemical sector are having significant curtailment issues at present.

To put it into context the 177 mmscf/d shortfall would have been enough to supply the largest methanol plant in the country, which is one of the largest in the world.

It would have also been enough gas to perhaps keep Atlantic LNG Train 1 in operations and save the NGC’s blushes and a quarter billion loss on its failed attempt to save Train 1.

The latest figures also show a worrying decrease, almost for the entire year of natural gas production. A closer examination of the numbers show that in January natural gas production was 3 bscf/d this fell off almost every month with February 2.85 bscf/d, in March it declined to 2.773 bscf/d and by July it averaged a paltry 2.394 bscf/d.

The main reason for the shortfall is the continued weak production from bpTT which up to July averaged in calender 2021, 1.268 bscf/d, a far cry from the 2 bscf/d it did from 2010 to 2020.

The figure is in keeping with the secret bpTT documents which the Business Guardian published showing the projections of low production for the entire 2021 and revised downward projections for several years to come.

The company has since tried to walk back its own projections saying it was subject to change.

But bpTT’s woes are not the only one facing the upstream sector as the figures also show that Royal Dutch Shell continues to struggle and its production figures have remained around to 500 mmscf/d mark. A far cry from when the company was producing closer to one bcf/d. EOG resources production figures are also down and while the company has in the past been a consistent supplier of natural gas, averaging closer to 500 mmscf/d, its production in calender 2021 has averaged 363 mmscf/d.

As perhaps can be expected the figures also show constrained production in all the petrochemicals and in Atlantic LNG.

It also demonstrates that there was no production out of Atlantic LNG train 1 and that the combined Trains two and three, where government does not have a stake, had marginally higher production numbers than Train 4 which is almost equivalent as the combined Trains 2 and 3, in terms of capacity.