T&T’s oil riches keep the promise

 The latest oil find, off south-east Trinidad’s historically hydrocarbon-rich Galeota Point, provides reassurance, if any were needed, that T&T remains a  promising frontier source of both natural gas and oil. Trinity Exploration, Trinidad and Tobago’s largest independent exploration and production company, last week announced success in locating oil to the estimated extent of  50 million to 115 million barrels. 

The Trinity spin on what it means for T&T has sustained an upbeat take on what has been achieved, and on what remains to be achieved, in those well-worked waters. Thankfully, for credibility in a country wearied by overdone hype both negative and positive, the Trinity find appears destined for unchallenged acceptance by knowledgeable industry players and watchers.

As a result of exploration by a well that is labelled “TGAL-1”, crude oil is now confidently expected, starting from 2015, to gush from a sea bed depth of just under 6,000 feet. Until the crude reaches pipelines or tankers that will take it to refineries, it remains just a promise of good times, or better times, to come. But at least on this occasion, the promise earns more respectability than that of the “Jubilee” find, so conveniently announced and promoted to coincide with the 2012 Independence anniversary, but about which little is today told.

Still, Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine will likely be unable to resist claiming that the Trinity find results from official policy favourable to oil production which, over the last two decades, has slowed in output and been reduced in capacity, relative to natural gas. Since before the turn of the century, natural gas exploration, production, export and other downstream monetisation have dominated the energy agenda. 

It remains the case, too, that  the energy sector has continued as the driving force of the T&T economy. This reality persists, even as smart policy interest has favoured “diversification” into economic endeavours not based on oil and gas. 

The Trinity find coincides with a multi-billion-dollar vote of confidence in T&T energy prospects shown by Anglo/Australian multinational BHP Billiton. As reported in David Renwick’s Energy Insider in last week’s Business Express, BHP Billiton has committed US$1.54 billion for investment in “one modest energy location” in T&T waters. 

BHP Billiton had itself initially made it big here through finding and producing oil off Trinidad’s north eastern coastline. Still now producing oil, but indeed much more gas, more profitably, from the same area, the company has signed up production sharing contracts to search for hydrocarbons inside  unproven deep waters around T&T. 

With the mighty BHP Billiton, relatively small Trinity has in common faith and hope in the energy-productive prospects of T&T. Economic planners of course await  outcome of policies and actions toward diversification now seen as inevitable, T&T has to share the faith and the hope of energy companies that put their money where their mouths are.

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