Marc Loquan

Bavita Gopaulchan

Despite making a loss last year, the Chairman of the National Gas Company Limited (NGC) believes the company is doing well.

The state-owned company lost $316.2 million for the first six months of the 2020 financial year, however during a Public Accounts (Enterprises) Committee (PAEC) meeting yesterday, NGC Chairman, Conrad Enill, defended the company’s performance. He indicated that there were factors outside management’s control that contributed to its inability to make a profit last year. These factors, Enill said included the issue of subsidized gas and a $5.6 billion dollar debt by the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Company (T&TEC).

“If you take out those things, not under management control, NGC would have made a profit”, Enill exclaimed.

“So, the fear that the organization is somehow or the other is not doing well is not true”, he stated.

The company’s chairman also noted that the volatility of commodity prices on international markets was also to be blamed for NGC’s 2020 performance which have been low due to lower global energy consumption . The COVID-19 pandemic, he noted, had also exacerbated challenges but assured that hope is on the horizon.

“On the basis of what we have seen in 2020 and on the basis of what we have seen in 2021, we believe that in the very short term, the NGC will continue to get back to its former state where it will contribute positively to the Trinidad and Tobago revenue and what we are asking at this point in time is that all players hold on for a little bit longer as we go through this intervening period”, according to Enill.

He expects an improvement in the company in the next 12 to 24 months. This as he noted the company has been making long-term investments to help support the gas supply shortfall as well as purchasing assets.

“One of the other issues which arise is that we will need the support of the government as so far as legislation is concerned to help with the process and I am very sure that Minister Khan and others will be looking at that”, Enill said.

PAEC member, Fitzgerald Hinds, asked the company to address the public’s concerns surrounding the closure of the Yara ammonia plant in 2019 and Methanex Corporation’s move to idle operations at its Titan plant. Hinds told the company there was the perception that these closures were an indictment on both the company and the government.

However, NGC’s President, Mark Loquan, sought to explain that closures were also being experienced in other parts of the world.

“Not only in Trinidad but, you see it also in other parts of the world as has happened before you will see the smaller, inefficient plants coming out… that is not a blot against NGC. The landscape has changed and there is no question about it”, Loquan insisted.

He further explained, “The Yara plant for instance came out in 2019. That was in comparison to many plants in the local landscape as well as the international landscape that has one of the smallest productions and highly inefficient plants. In other words, it took a lot of energy compared to another plant to make one ton of ammonia”.

Meanwhile, NGC President stated that the company has implemented “ a much more rigid methodology” to assess projects before money is invested, having learnt from its investment in the billion-dollar Beetham WasteWater Treatment Plant. Going forward, Loquan said the company will be sticking to its core business