Trinidad and Tobago’s economy continues to be closely pegged to energy sector production levels and global pricing, which in the past has allowed us to prosper significantly, albeit at the expense of competitiveness in other sectors. In recent years, the volatility of both price and production has crystallised in the collective narrative, the need for diversification and improvement in other facets of our economy in order to remain competitive. To understand the issue of competitiveness better, we can look at our rankings in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report.
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Sustainable development refers to a process of thoughtful growth that enables societies to meet their needs today without jeopardising the viability of future generations. The global compact to grow by this principle is elaborated in 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) that have been set and agreed by members of the United Nations General Assembly. These SDGs are targets for nations to meet by 2030 that tackle a broad range of development issues, such as poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, urban growth and social justice.
One of the major barriers facing small contractors and service companies wanting to do business with international oil and gas companies is meeting the high safety, health and environmental standards that they demand of all their suppliers. If a contractor or service company does not meet the operator’s health, safety and environmental (HSE) requirements, they will not even be able to bid for work. This is a particular challenge in countries with new hydrocarbon industries, such as Guyana, especially if they do not have an existing, well-developed, national legislative framework and a history of a strong safety culture. Operators are not going to lower their standards to accommodate local contractors. And nor should they — we all want people to be safe and healthy, and the environment to be protected.
There are currently four drillships operating in the waters of Suriname, T&T and Guyana. All four are exploring for hydrocarbons in water depths > 1000 meters. In June 2018, BHP Billiton resumed deepwater exploration drilling in TTDAA 5 when it spudded the Victoria 1 well. BHP has reported that, Victoria 1 encountered hydrocarbons (most likely natural gas) but apart from that not much more is known.
One of the primary objectives of NGC’s Strategic Plan is to restore balance to the gas supply scenario in Trinidad and Tobago. With supply currently below demand, the Company has been looking at different ways to bridge the gap. Measures have included partnering with Venezuela to monetise the Dragon field, lobbying for renewable energy uptake so molecules could be diverted from electricity generation, collaborating with upstream operators to bring new fields into production and continue their exploration thrust.
At the recent launch of the Trinidad and Tobago Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (TTEITI) Report 2016, perhaps the most anticipated information, apart from whether or not any ‘unexplained discrepancies’ were reported, was the figure for total flows to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago from the reporting companies in the oil and gas sector. And, even with some knowledge and appreciation of the steady decline in commodity prices coupled with low oil and gas production levels, this figure will still come as a surprise to many.
After a period of dormancy, drilling activity is starting to ramp up. As an operator, you will be looking to take advantage of low rig rates and will ideally be looking for a ‘hot rig’ (i.e. an operational rig), to avoid risk and delay which can occur from contracting nonoperational rigs that require reactivation from a state of warm or cold stacking.
The Trinidad and Tobago energy sector finds itself at a very critical juncture requiring a mindset to navigate a difficult period to survive the long term. It was in this context that NGC provided its insights at this year’s Energy Conference. The contributions made by sector colleagues have undoubtedly bolstered the theme of “Maximizing Value Through Collaboration”, as the sector leverages synergies and partnerships for a successful 2018 and beyond.
It has been three years since The Public Procurement and Disposal of Property Act No. 1 of 2015 was assented to, and July 31, 2018 would make it three years since its partial proclamation. An act intended to, among other things, repeal the Central Tenders Board Act and establish an Office of Procurement Regulation.
Clean energy is a winning issue and Trinidad and Tobago should claim and own it. The wider Caribbean has always had hurricanes due to its geographical bearing, but storm intensity has increased in recent decades due to climate change. Climate change science has clarified the problem with fossil fuel emissions, it has educated people whose lives are being adversely impacted by fossil fuels, and will lead to sustained investment for Caribbean economies, if weaponised.
The recent “fake oil” allegations at Petrotrin has helped propel public discussion on how efficiently the country monitors its oil and gas production. For better or worse, the issue has generated not only salacious stories in the press but actual interest in the existing checks and balances to monitor production. It is clear that the ramifications of lax monitoring can be crippling. In fact, there are billion dollar ramifications if the country does not correctly quantify its energy production, particularly in this current environment of low global oil and gas prices and declining national production.
Sovereign wealth funds are relatively new. They have been devised as a defensive measure to address the macroeconomic impact of revenue volatility in resource rich countries. Other objectives include ensuring inter generational equity, addressing future financial needs, and protecting a country’s economy from extraordinary shifts in its fiscal situation.
It was clear that Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (GATE) had to be restructured. The existing system was wasteful and much of the value went to families who could have afforded to pay university fees — a typical problem with most subsidies. The increase in both the quantity and quality of the cars driven by students and parked on The University of the West Indies (The UWI) St. Augustine campus was testimony to this fact. Means testing is an obvious way of targeting subsidies and a logical policy decision, though I have some misgivings about how the levels have been set and how the process will actually be administered.
The message that I took away from the feature presentation by Filipe Calderon, former President of Mexico, to the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business Distinguished Leadership and Innovation Conference was that leadership is about taking decisions, even when they are tough and unpopular. Calderon’s presentation, delivered in a humble and often self-effacing manner, was both fascinating and inspiring.
The recycling movement locally has been gaining some momentum in recent years, at least in terms of awareness, even if action is still confined to a relatively small sector of the population. There are more bins and recycling points throughout the country than ever before, even if many of them are filled with rubbish.
There is an advertisement on the radio for communication training service that ends with a most dubious declaration that “It is not what you say, but how you say it”. While this statement that ‘style trumps content’ might be true in one of the hallowed governance institutions of our country where any content is allowed once one conforms to the rules of the Speaker, it is certainly not an operating principle for communications in the world of business.
Sanctity of contracts. This is probably an unexpected first line in an article advocating the need to renegotiate contractual arrangements however it is a very relevant consideration. Sanctity of contract refers to the principle that once a party enters into a contract, that party will honour its contractual obligations.
The Paris climate pledges submitted through the system of Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) action plans aim for global decarbonisation. The Trinidad & Tobago pledge includes the concept of a Caribbean Carbon Market (CCM) hosted by the Energy Chamber of Trinidad & Tobago. The market plan has been vetted by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and was showcased at its 2015 summit in New York City.