Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Ramnarine: Opposition statements reckless

Energy Minister defends gas deal...

Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine has said the statements made by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley and MP Colm Imbert on the Loran Manatee field will hurt the diplomatic ties between this country and Venezuela.

“That reckless statement by the Leader of the Opposition and Mr Imbert will impact on international relations between Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela,” Ramnarine told the Express yesterday.

Rowley and Imbert, at a news conference in Parliament, called on Government to come clean on the issue as international media reports indicate that the agreement between both Governments  on the Loran Manatee field was in Venezuela’s favour.

Ramnarine said the agreement, signed by him and Venezuelan Minister Rafael Ramirez on September 11, 2013 in Caracas, concerns the functional structure and governance of the unit operator for the Loran-Manatee unit area.  

He said the agreement deals with the establishment of the Unit Operator which will comprise three bodies: 

1) A directing committee—made up of representatives of both Governments and the four companies involved;

2) An investment committee made up of the four companies involved; and,

3) An executing entity, to be chosen from among the four companies involve

Ramnarine said the next phase is the appointment of the Executing Entity which will submit a development plan in respect of the Loran Manatee Unit Area for the consideration of the Ministerial Commission which comprises him and Ramirez.

“No decision has been made thus far regarding where the natural gas in the field would be monetised although positions have for some years been articulated by both countries,” said Ramnarine.

He said further, “The Venezuelans have held to a view that their gas, because there is gas that is their property and gas that is our property, should go to their pipeline via Venezuela. We have put out a view that our gas should come to Trinidad and we have also put forward the view that some of their gas should come to Trinidad given the fact that the field is closer to Trinidad’s infrastructure...it makes economic sense. However, no agreement has been arrived at as to where the gas will go.”

Asked about international reports indicating the agreement was in Venezuela’s favour, he responded, “I think that came out of a statement that Minister Ramirez made prior to my visit, and the Venezuelan and international media picked up on that...but Minister Ramirez never said that our gas, Trinidad gas, will be going to Venezuela.”

Ramnarine said the Opposition needs to check its facts.

“The Opposition could have had the courtesy to enquire. Mr Imbert finds time to blog, he’s a serial blogger but he cannot find time to communicate with the Ministry of Energy and the Minister of Energy,” he said.

“It is an attack on the Government. It is an attack on the Government of Venezuela. It is an attack on the public servants in the Energy Ministry and Foreign Affairs Ministry,” he added.

“In my humble opinion, the Opposition has proven themselves totally unworthy of governing this country based on their statements on the Loran Manatee field,” said Ramnarine.