OIL production in the country has fallen by close to 50 per cent in the past seven years, Finance Minister Larry Howai said yesterday.
Howai made the statement as the Finance Bill 2013 was debated in the Senate, Tower D, International Waterfront Centre in Port of Spain.
Howai said the energy sector accounts for 40 per cent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provides as much as 80 per cent of foreign exchange earnings.
"Over the medium term therefore I expect that the sector will continue to be a major sector in our economy, however, oil production has been declining and in 2012 averaged 82,000 barrels of oil per day as compared to a production rate of 144,000 barrels per day in 2005," Howai said.
The decline was because of failure to invest in the industry in the past decade.
"So in seven years Mr President output in the oil sector, in the petroleum sector, output of oil has actually dropped by close to 50 per cent and this is because of our failure to invest in this industry over the past ten years," he said.
"A significant amount of the work that is being done today is going to take some period of time before we actually start to see the results," Howai added.
"Generally starting from a bid round and going right down to final output can take between seven to ten years," he said.
Howai said "specific action" needed to be taken urgently to commercialise oil production.
"The global energy sector itself is undergoing significant change, the sector is on a global basis facing the output of failed gas and oil and of course, failed gas as a by-product coming from fields where there is already failed oil literally means you can practically give that gas away and therefore the kind of competition Trinidad and Tobago will face in the future in this particular area is something that we need to also bear in mind as we start to deal with how we are going to deal with the fiscal regime that exists in Trinidad and Tobago to ensure that we get the level of investment that we need to ensure this industry continues to remain a strong and vibrant industry in the years to come," Howai said.