IN BLACK AND WHITE: Petrotrin chairman Lindsay Gillette, from left, Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine and Commissioner of State Lands Kumar Koonoolal review their documents after yesterday's signing ceremony at Tower C, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, for two exploration blocks. —Photo: AYANNA KINSALE

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Petrotrin signs $b agreement

By Carla Bridglal

The Ministry of Energy has awarded State-oil company Petrotrin two exploration and production licences for Trinmar acreages Trinidad Northern Areas Block (TNA) and the North Marine Block.

Both parties signed the licence agreement yesterday at the Ministry's offices in Tower C, International Waterfront Centre, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain. As part of the agreement, Petrotrin is expected to invest almost $7 billion in the two acreages between 2013 and 2017.

The licences, negotiations for which took several months, provide for new work programmes, signature and commerciality bonuses, technical equipment, environmental and other bonuses and abandonment provisions. They provide for a term of six years to execute the exploration programmes and the development of existing field areas.

Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine said it was a "historic" occasion, as the licences were being renewed after almost 30 years.

"What we've done today is give Petrotrin the licence and now this will help them to raise capital for the $7 billion investment programme. This is also a major plank in increasing oil production. We are currently producing 82,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd). Trinmar numbers are beginning to improve as we continue to activate the wells in the southwest Soldado field. Production at Trinmar is at 22,000 bpd for 2012—our goal is 25,000 in 2013 next year," he said.

Ramnarine added that his first duty for the New Year 2013 will be to present a new Oil Spill Contingency Plan for Cabinet approval. The previous plan was developed in 1977, when there were only two companies, Amoco and Trinmar, out doing drilling, Ramnarine said. Now, there are several companies operating and a heightened awareness since the catastrophic BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010.

"This is also historic, the first updated plan in 35 years. After it gets all its approvals from Cabinet I will present it at the Energy Conference (later this month)," he said.

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