MINISTER in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young has accused the United National Congress (UNC) of a “complete lack of patriotism”, saying they wanted to put a “spanner in the wheel” in the negotiations between Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela for the acquisition of gas from the Dragon natural gas field offshore Venezuela.
Young, responding to urgent questions about the negotiations on Friday in the House of Representatives, at Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, he suggested the UNC was hoping somehow that the deal would be blocked by consistently asking about and “calling upon” the National Assembly of Venezuela.
He said while Government was working hard to keep the gas industry alive and to secure the economic future of the country, the type of questions being asked by the Opposition showed a complete lack of patriotism.
“They keep throwing spanners in the wheel...and they keep trying to call something that doesn't exist...and talk about approval by the National Assembly of Venezuela,” he said.
Contract by July
He said both this Government and the Government of Venezuela were ensuring everything was being done in accordance with the respective laws of the two countries.
On the start date of the project, Young said a decision was taken by Venezuela Oil and Mining Minister Nelson Martinez and himself that they were going to press the three parties to have a gas sale contract by July.
He said once it is signed then, gas should come by 2019.
Young said two days ago, a heads of agreement was signed between the National Gas Company (NGC); PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil and gas company; and Shell International.
He said this agreement was a “follow-on” from a heads of agreement which had been signed by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on behalf of Trinidad and Tobago and the government of Venezuela for Trinidad and Tobago to get the much-needed gas.
“What this agreement (signed two days ago) does is move it (the initial heads of agreement) from talk and conversation to a sanctioned project by the three corporations (NGC, PDVSA and Shell) to operationalise the getting of gas from the Dragon field directly into the pipeline and the infrastructure that exist in Trinidad and Tobago.... So this is actually a great day and great moment for Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.
Asked what was the quantum of investment by NGC, Young replied that that was a “premature conversation at this stage” since there was another entity—Shell—involved.
He said Government was seeking to work out the best arrangement for the taxpayers of Trinidad and Tobago and to protect the Treasury in the process.
He added that Government continued to be “fully transparent” to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.