Friday, February 23, 2018

Trip to China: energy talks high on the agenda

Energy talks will be high on the agenda during Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s official visit to China, as Trinidad and Tobago looks to suppress what Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine calls the “threat” of shale gas and oil production in the United States.

Speaking to the media yesterday at the post-Cabinet media briefing before he departed as part of Persad-Bissessar’s entourage, Ramnarine said while the liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector has already begun evolving away from exporting to the US, which was once its biggest market, that country still remains the top destination for ammonia and methanol exports, as well as a significant portion of state oil company Petrotrin’s refined products.

The press conference was held at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair. “It is of strategic importance to create new markets, and China is the second largest consumer of energy in the world,” he said.

Energy will be “the nucleus” of discussions, and will focus on compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), and renewable energy, he said.

The delegation from the Energy Ministry includes Ramnarine, representatives of the National Gas Company, Lake Asphalt, and Petrotrin, and will meet with officials from China’s National Energy Administration.

Discussions for LNG will focus on expanding Trinidad and Tobago’s export market to China, especially as that country moves to reduce its consumption of coal as its primary source of energy.

Regarding CNG and renewable energy, the government hopes to tap into China’s vast experience and knowledge in those sectors, he said.

These talks will follow discussions in Trinidad by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his state visit to Trinidad and Tobago last June, and the National Energy Administration’s deputy head Zhang Yuqing the following month.

Chinese companies have a significant presence operating in the local energy sector, including: 

• China Investment Corporation (CIC), which acquired ten per cent of Train I of the Atlantic Facility in 2012

• Chaoyang Petroleum (Trinidad)—owned 50/50 by the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and Sinopec, and holds a 25.5 per cent and 25 per cent interest respectively in Blocks 3a and 2C. These two blocks are operated by BHP Billiton

• Sinopec Overseas Oil and Gas Antilles (Trinidad) Ltd (SOOGL), a subsidiary of Sinopec, and has a 65 per cent interest in the East Brighton Sub Block A and 45.5 per cent interest in East Brighton Sub Block B.