It's little surprise that RWE Dea AG, the oil and gas unit of RWE AG, Germany's second largest utility, has pitched in to be a silver sponsor of the Geological Society of Trinidad and Tobago's (GSTT) fifth conference to be held at the Hilton Trinidad hotel from September 3-5 this year.
I'll tell you why in a moment but first let's point out that this will be one of the year's most important energy-related gatherings if only because, as its current president Dr Krishna Persad points out, "the GSTT is the premier local professional organisation in Trinidad and Tobago."
Other "professional organisations" may dispute that but it certainly displays a greater understanding of the need to promote its important role than does, say, the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Trinidad chapter which seems to believe it operates in a vacuum, with no connection with the rest of the country its members are alleged to serve.
In strong contrast, GSTT members are well aware, and not averse to letting us know, as Dr Persad does, that "geoscientists are directly responsible for finding the oil and gas that literally and figuratively fuel the economy of Trinidad and Tobago. Their success has enabled the production of around four billion barrels of oil and over 10 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas to date. Indeed, over 12 billion barrels of oil and 30 tcf of gas (estimated in place) have been discovered by these geoscientists over the past 100 years."
Of course, once the geoscientists have discovered the oil or gas, the petroleum engineers have to bring it to the surface successfully and economically but Dr Persad is absolutely right in implying that no production would be possible without the identification of the resource in the first place.
GSTT has chosen the rubric "From the Conventional To The Ingenious" for its conference and that covers a multitude of potentially fascinating themes, including roaming outside the ambit of fossil fuels to, as Persad says: "Explore serious alternatives in solar, wind power and bio-fuels and showcase methodologies and technologies, share solutions and build new paradigms for the industry."
Now back to RWE Dea AG.
This is the newest company to become involved in the Trinidad and Tobago energy sector and it did so on the back of the 2010 bid round for shallow and average water acreage.
It went with Canada's Niko Resources into the 251,870 acre NCMA 2 block, which is directly north of the NCMA 1 block where substantial gas discoveries were made. Niko is the operator and holds 56 per cent, with RWE Dea having 24 per cent and State company Petrotrin a mandatory 20 per cent. The prognosis for the identification of gas in NCMA 2 is very high. After all, the acreage may well be on trend with the Poinsettia, Hibiscus and Chaconia discoveries in NCMA 1.
Certainly, the German company is extremely gung-ho about the possibilities.
Thomas Rappuhn, RWE Dea AG's chief executive officer (CEO) said in 2010 that "Trinidad and Tobago is attractive, there are lots of prospects, a lot of gas on the basis of what we have seen."
Indeed, without having actually sunk a well at the time, Mr Rappuhn was rhapsodising over the fact that "gas from Trinidad could go to the market with the best prices, which could be in the East Asia region, around Japan, for example."
RWE Dea AG markets its gas through RWE Supply and Trading GmbH, which is represented in Port of Spain by a company called The Aga Group llc, for which Ainsley Gill is the managing partner.
David Fuller, head of Global LNG for RWE Supply and Trading GmbH, visited Trinidad about a year ago and met a number of key government ministers.
The impression was gained that RWE Dea AG was not stopping at NCMA 2. Mr Rappuhn himself has said that the company "would like to see what the possibilities are like in the next bid round".
RWE Dea's confidence in Trinidad and Tobago's continuing gas potential can also be gleaned from the pioneering proposal it has put to the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs (MEEA) for a ship-based gas liquefaction project, as was exclusively mentioned in "Energy Insider" on July 25.
Floating LNG is the next big deal in the gas development business (floating regasification, such as Jamaica is contemplating has been around for some time). Royal Dutch Shell is leading the way with its mammoth FLNG vessel now being constructed at the Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard in South Korea to be placed over the company's prelude gas discovery in Western Australia. It is likely to cost as much as US$10 billion and be in business by 2016 as the world's biggest floating structure.
RWE Dea AG, like Shell, clearly thinks that FLNG has a future (though it should be said that the UK's Centrica Energy rejected FLNG as an option for its own offshore gas fields in Trinidad and Tobago and has now chosen a land-based CNG route instead).
Centrica's block 22 gas reserves represent only one of the several gas discoveries that RWE Dea AG obviously thinks are likely, including what may be found in NCMA 2. As Energy and Energy Affairs Minister, Kevin Ramnarine, told me recently: "RWE Dea's proposal is not specific to NCMA 2. It was a general solution that they were proposing for Trinidad and Tobago."
His own view on FLNG is that it is applicable in Trinidad and Tobago only to gas discoveries that are genuinely "stranded" and are very large, something in the vicinity of 5 tcf. "It would not apply," the Minister stresses, "to gas which is in shallow or average water. That can be produced by pipeline."
Nonetheless, RWE Dea AG is not daunted and, as I noted in the July 25 "Energy Insider," has even offered the government a 50 per cent share in the first FLNG vessel it is planning to build in conjunction with Excelerate Energy, the gas shipping company in which RWE is a 50 per cent shareholder, alongside US billionaire George Kaiser.
Excelerate has been in the ship-based regasification business for some years but this will be its first foray into FLNG via what it calls its Energy Bridge Liquefaction Vessel or EBLV.
Revealing all this at the recent first Caribbean Gas Trading and Supply conference, Minister Ramnarine also seemed to be softening his stance on gas-based liquefaction.
"FLNG is not an option that we should dismiss in Trinidad and Tobago, given our upcoming deepwater campaigns," he declared.
David Renwick was awarded the Hummingbird Medal (Gold) in 2008 for the development of energy journalism in Trinidad and Tobago.