Interest in energy efficiency, renewable energy and climate change has increased in Trinidad and Tobago in recent months, driven by both international events and specific local challenges. But while there is a lot of interest from industry, academia and NGOs, government action seems to be lagging behind.
The inability of the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries to decide on a certification system for energy service companies (ESCO) is a major barrier to efforts to increase energy efficiency in Trinidad and Tobago, according to Christopher Narine-Thomas, Chairman of Energy Efficiency and Alternative Energy Committee of the Energy Chamber.
Point Lisas Industrial Estate and Tamana Intech Park could potentially be locations for the first solar panel manufacturing plants in Trinidad and Tobago. Marcia Maynard, Manager Energy Industry Development, National Energy Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago Ltd. (National Energy) revealed their plans for the plants while presenting at last month’s Clean Energy Conference hosted by the Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago.
Currently, the local energy landscape is challenged as there exists a natural gas supply shortfall in the local energy sector, primarily as a result of depleting reservoirs (mature province); easy discoveries already found; little exploration contributing to the gas supply challenge; limited access to good quality and low cost seismic data and long negotiation period for gas contracts.
With the government already having announced its intention to remove the transport fuel subsidy, there is now a new focus on the cost of the electricity subsidy in Trinidad and Tobago. The cost of this subsidy has been largely ignored in the past as it was borne, not by the central government, but by The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Ltd. (NGC). However, with gas shortages plaguing the petrochemical and LNG sectors, and with NGC seeing its margins being squeezed by low commodity prices in the downstream and higher natural gas sales prices being demanded by the upstream, this issue has come to the fore.
Touchstone Exploration, the Toronto-listed oil and gas firm made its debut on London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) raising £1.45 million by placing 20 million new shares priced at £7.25 per share. In a company press release, President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Baay said access to London’s capital markets will be a boon to the firm’s future success.
Energy efficiency and renewable energy have a key role to play in solving the persistent gas shortages that have plagued the Trinidad and Tobago liquefied natural gas (LNG) and petrochemical sectors since 2010.
Global methanol prices have almost doubled over the past year, with June 2017 prices at US$455 per tonne. At first sight, this might look like good news for Trinidad and Tobago, but this increase in prices has been driven in part by declines in Trinidad production. Methanol Holdings Trinidad Ltd. has been forced to mothball some of their Trinidad production due to continued shortfalls in natural gas supply and their inability to negotiate new gas purchase contracts from The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited.
In December 2015, the landmark Paris climate agreement was agreed to by 195 nations around the world. The agreement signals the global resolve to reduce CO2 emissions and to curb the rate of global warming. To date, out of 197 countries that have signed onto the Paris agreement, 153 (78%) have already ratified the agreement and put it into force in their own country, committing themselves to a self-determined plan to reduce CO2 emissions. Trinidad and Tobago is among the minority (22%) of countries which have not ratified the agreement.
Speaking at The Oil & Gas Year's Second strategic round table discussions for Trinidad and Tobago's energy industry, Petrotrin’s President Fitzroy Harewood, shed some more light on Petrotrin’s operations. The event attracted senior industry leaders in the energy sector in Trinidad and Tobago.
The United States Geological Survey ranks the Guyana- Suriname Basin as the second most prospective, underexplored offshore oil basin with an estimated 13.6 billion barrels of oil and 32 trillion cubic feet of natural gas yet to be discovered. Apart from the Exxon successes in Guyana, interest has once again turned to Suriname.
According to Petrotrin president, Fitzroy Harewood, globally there has been a push for cleaner fuels in transport. In that regard, he said “if we are to remain competitive we have to complete our ultra-low-sulphur diesel (ULSD) plant”.
Chairman of Petrotrin, Professor Andrew Jupiter, indicated that the state oil company has pre-qualified 29 firms for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Speaking at the Enhancing Oil and Gas Recovery symposium hosted by the Energy Chamber and the University of Trinidad and Tobago, Professor Jupiter revealed the intention to boost oil production by Petrotrin in a number of areas both onshore and offshore.