The fuel subsidy for the first nine months of fiscal year 2011-2013 is $3.2 billion, Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine has said.
This figure excludes the levy raised by Government on oil companies for four per cent of gross revenues to offset the subsidy. Revenue from this is currently $500 million, he said.
Ramnarine was speaking to reporters during a consultation meeting with local renewable energy companies at the Ministry's offices at Tower C, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, ahead of the Ministry's proposals to the Ministry of Finance for the 2012-2013 budget.
He said while it was difficult to say exactly how much of a dent has been made in curbing the illegal diesel bunkering racket, so far the Ministry's data shows a 17 per cent reduction in the local demand for diesel compared to last year.
"But by and large, there has been significant success," he added.
Despite the reduction, however, Ramnarine said the difference was offset by an increase in the ex-refinery cost of diesel, so the overall subsidy would probably end up being the same as last year's (approximately $4 billion).
He said the country's energy production continues to meet its revenue targets for fiscal 2011/2012, and he was confident "the correct things" were being done at oil companies operating in Trinidad to sustain the priority of increased oil production.
"Petrotrin is stepping up. The Trinmar assets are producing 23,000 barrels a day (bpd), and there are more plans to reactivate the southwest Soldado fields. There are currently four land rigs drilling—the highest number in a decade, and six marine rigs. Two of those belong to Bayfield (the London-based company that struck oil earlier this year in its first exploration well drill) and are producing 2,300 bpd, with output expected to increase," he said.
This was the second pre-budget proposal consultation hosted by the ministry for energy stakeholders. Ramnarine said he and ministry officials had already met with the Energy Chamber, and had plans to meet with the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union, the American Chamber of Commerce, and the Petroleum Dealers Association.