The issue surrounding the Loran Manatee field is one that can be worse than the Section 34 debacle as it impacts on the economic life blood of this country, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley has said.
Rowley and Opposition MP Colm Imbert held a news conference yesterday at Parliament, where they raised concerns over international media reports of an agreement between this country and Venezuela—in Venezuela’s favour with respect to the Loran Manatee field.
Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine has denied an agreement was made to Venezuela’s benefit and that no decision has yet been taken on the issue.
However, Imbert produced copies of international reports from media houses such as NY Daily News, Fox News, Reuters as well as from PDVSA, the Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company, which showed that the agreement was in favour of Venezuela.
“If the minister is right and I am wrong, why have none of the international media houses reported in opposition to this that a pipeline will be built from the gas field to Petrotrin,” said Imbert.
He said when the agreement was signed between Ramnarine and Venezuela’s Minister Rafael Ramirez, the meeting was broadcast live on Venezuelan radio and picked up by international media.
“The international press and I say that a pipeline is going to be built to Venezuela, they say it’s not so...I’m sorry, there’s overwhelming evidence it is so,” said Imbert.
Imbert noted that the NY Daily News reported that 73 per cent of the field was in Venezuela’s territorial waters and 26 per cent in Trinidad and that the building of the pipeline would be carried out from the Venezuelan side.
He noted further that a release from PDVSA itself indicated that the company will build the pipeline from the field to the Venezuelan coast.
Imbert said Trinidad has a problem as its gas supply is limited so that new projects cannot get off the ground and this issue poses difficulty in attracting investors. He said the Loran Manatee field was supposed to be the catalyst to stimulating the sector.
Rowley said the minister needs to come clean on the matter.
“If what has been published and what the Government is not owning up to here is what we think it is then this probably is worse than Section 34 and all we want from the Government of Trinidad and Tobago is the truth and to stop taking us for fools,” he said.
He said there was always the view that the field was vital to this country as Trinidad is closer it and has the physical plant to utilise the gas resources. Rowley said if what was published about the agreement was true then “all Trinidad and Tobago’s expectations to use that gas in Trinidad and Tobago would come to naught”.