A fund which has been dormant for several years and was designed to help small firms in the oil and gas industry is getting a kick-start.
National Gas Company president Indar Maharaj announced yesterday that $24 million in the fund which has been "dormant for several years will now be available to assist small companies involved in the energy sector".
Maharaj said the reason why the fund—a joint venture between NGC and the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers' Association—has not been used.
"The criteria was too stringent," he said.
To make it available to small companies, he will be holding discussions with stakeholders to change the criteria used in the past for disbursing the funds.
Maharaj said concomitant with the new methods which will be used to access the money, "the NGC will continue its efforts to increase the percentage of local content, now averaging between 30 and 40 per cent of total investment in the industry".
He said however: "Any increase in the percentage of local content will be dependent largely on initiatives pursued by the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs."
Maharaj's comments came as he addressed members of the Energy Chamber at a luncheon meeting held at the Cara Suites Hotel, Claxton Bay.
One of the problems facing the NGC at present is the disparity between the supply of natural gas and the demand for the product, he said.
"Since 2010 there has been a disparity between supply and demand. It has reached the stage where NGC was forced to place this problem on the front burner."
Maharaj said one of the options to correct the imbalance was to look seriously at the storage capabilities of the company.
Speaking about the Tobago pipeline development, Maharaj said the plan had been widened to supply natural gas to islands in the Eastern Caribbean.
He said the NGC rescinded its contract with liquefied natural gas producer Atlantic and was in the process of selling natural gas on its own.
The NGC previously had shares in two Atlantic trains for the production of LNG at Pt Fortin.
Andrew Jupiter, who recently retired as president of the National Energy Corporation (NEC), but who continues to work on contract for one year, told members of the Chamber that Union Estate at La Brea will be opened for placement to small companies involved in the energy sector.
Maharaj, who joined NGC as its president on April 2 was a former plant manager at Point Lisas Nitrogen Ltd.