EnergyNow: You’ve been away from Trinidad and Tobago for a number of years. What are the major changes you have seen in the local gas industry over that period?
Mark Loquan: In the number of years I have been abroad, I have seen some issues come to pass here in Trinidad, some of these issues were being debated several years ago. Before I left for Angola/Sub-Sahara Africa in 2009, we were already discussing depletion rates; the level of reserves and the timing of such impacts among other things.
Gas curtailment issues are now clearly more pronounced, product prices have significantly declined and there are gas contracts which have now expired.
Globally, there have been shifts in shale gas production, which is expected to increase as a percentage of total global gas production. There has also been a step change in access to cross border gas with gas field development being jointly pursued with Venezuela.
EnergyNow: Could you compare working in Trinidad and Tobago with Angola and Australia?
Mark Loquan: They were very different experiences. During my time in Africa from 2009 to 2012, there was and still is, a lot of activity in countries where there have been major gas finds, including Angola, Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania. All the countries are in different phases – Angola has a new LNG facility; Ghana with its formation of a new gas company and a gas processing plant; and Mozambique and Tanzania exploring new LNG facilities.
Angola was quite an interesting assignment, with its history of civil war and a newly evolving private sector with new industries and services. Challenges included very centralised decisionmaking by the President; a long-standing oil industry expanding into gas and power; and the tremendous challenge to identify and garner the technical skills to meet the growth. Having to learn Portuguese was also quite challenging!
Australia was another exciting experience, where we were developing plants to go further downstream in one of the more remote areas in the Pilbara region. At the time Australia was constructing and starting up seven LNG plants which are four times the quantum of all our LNG plants in Trinidad. The challenges were no less daunting there: difficulties in obtaining specific technical skills and experience; high turnover rates; a highly regulated state and federal environment; indigenous sensitivities; domestic gas challenges on the east and west coast; high wages from the mining boom; multiple joint ventures, etc. provided a multiplicity of challenging scenarios.
EnergyNow: How do you think that your international experience will help in finding solutions to the issues facing the local industry?
Mark Loquan: My international experiences have forged some of my views on relationships for the long term, and given me a greater global perspective with respect to some of the solutions required for Trinidad and Tobago, which lie outside our own shores.
My experiences with upstream and downstream players, meeting government officials in countries in different phases of developing policy or forming a gas company, can hopefully lead to a greater understanding of NGC’s and Trinidad and Tobago’s own challenges in a global context, while trying to forge solutions locally and internationally with all stakeholders in the energy chain. Some of the experiences have also led me to think not only about NGC per se, but how we can develop our service sector even further, and improve linkages with the government, chambers, and educational institutions to improve capacity and to utilise the experience of our energy sector to assist other countries in their development.
EnergyNow: What made you want to come back to Trinidad and take up the role with NGC?
Mark Loquan: It has been a convergence of professional and personal events, while at the same time, some of the experiences shaped globally, seem to converge with NGC’s own vision to expand across the energy value chain, locally and internationally. Trinidad is now in a perfect storm of challenges - with depressed commodity prices; gas supply/demand challenges; declining proven gas reserves; expired and expiring gas contracts both upstream and downstream and an organisation designed for a steady state with the need to be transformed and with ambitions to grow – the state is looking for more at a time of less.
Trinidad and Tobago’s energy sector will always underpin the economy. At its core, the success of NGC, and all in the energy value chain will have an undeniable impact on the future of Trinidad and Tobago. NGC’s success will be Trinidad and Tobago’s survival. Where we were operating inefficiently, we will need to utilise the resources we have in the best way while creating transformative and added value through local and international initiatives. NGC has 41 years of experience in the sector. It has a strong history, a great story and a lot of talent and skills to forge into the future. I am proud to be a member of NGC at this time, in an energy industry which has nurtured my knowledge and experience for the past few decades.