The Ministry of Energy will be launching its first land-based oil bid round in more than ten years next month.
Speaking yesterday at the opening ceremony of the 2013 Energy Conference at Hyatt Regency hotel, Port of Spain, Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine said this move was a "key component" in Government's strategy to turn around declining oil production.
He added that the bid round would be promoted at the conference, as well as marketed in Houston, Texas; Calgary, Canada; and Aberdeen, Scotland.
"Land production right now is holding its own. There are a lot of bright spots, with companies like Petrotrin, Range Resources out of Australia, Trinity (all rolling out) aggressive exploration plans in 2013. We need all companies (to press forward) to get production back up to where it was in the 70s and 80s," he said.
Ramnarine said there was a need to focus on production because of the high market price of oil. He said the industry has seen a recovery, with December data showing 82,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd), when previous months showed fewer than 80,000 bpd. The outlook for January, he said, is an average of 85,000 bpd.
He said 60 wells that had been capped in the southwest Soldado field ten years ago will also be reopened and production resumed.
Regarding Tobago, Ramnarine said he was very willing to meet with Chief Secretary Orville London to discuss prospects. "Tobago is surrounded with oil and natural gas prospects. The island is positioned to play a significant role and there has to be a degree of cooperation about how that is optimised," he said.
The thrust towards oil exploration and production would not come at the expense of natural gas, Ramnarine however reiterated.
The National Gas Company, he said, would be looking to expand its holdings.
"The existing NGC model, which has worked well, will not provide the accelerated growth desired.It is time for the NGC to consider (upstream) and (downstream) vertical integration of its business, and seek investment outside the country," he said.
The company, he said, is cash rich, with approximately TT$17 billion in assets and a total asset base of US$5 billion.