Industry collaboration has become an important focus for companies in the energy sector as they adjust to the lower price environment of the past few years. Companies have recognised that while they will compete in many areas of their business, there are also many areas where they can collaborate in order to maximise the value of their business. This can include collaboration between operators, between service companies and operators (or with each other), between academia and the industry, or collaboration between state agencies and the industry. There are also opportunities for collaboration across international borders to find mutually beneficial solutions.

In Trinidad and Tobago, there are some existing excellent examples of close industry collaboration, for example, the Safe to Work initiative that creates a single industry-wide service company health, safety and security (HSE) pre-qualification system, and the Point Lisas Industrial Estate basic HSE training and assessment system for individual contractor workers. Companies operating on the Point Lisas Industrial Estate have a good track record of collaborating with each other, especially in order to avoid bottlenecks around planned maintenance activities. 

At the 2017 Energy Conference, upstream operator companies made a commitment to increase their collaboration, for example, to coordinate major development projects to reduce costs of mobilising and demobilising major pieces of equipment to and from Trinidad and Tobago. Progress has been made in a number of areas over the past year, for example, with the decision to adopt a single industry-wide system to manage personnel using helicopters and on-board offshore platforms and rigs. 

Operators also made a public commitment at the 2017 Energy Conference to collaborate to increase the levels of local content and ensure that more value from the industry is retained in Trinidad and Tobago. There have been some specific actions arising out of the Charter signed last year, such as the sharing of more information with contractors and service companies about upcoming opportunities. Much more work is needed, however, to fully operationalise the Local Content Charter. 

While there are many examples of industry stakeholders collaborating amongst themselves, there are still many more opportunities that exist. The state can play an important role in facilitating greater collaboration, building on existing successes such as the utilisation of the earmarked funding from production sharing contracts for industry-specific research at the University of the West Indies and University of Trinidad and Tobago. In other countries, state-owned oil companies have played important roles in driving collaboration with service companies and research institutions, with Norway probably offering the best example. 

There are also significant opportunities for better collaboration between countries in the region, especially with the development of new hydrocarbon resources in Guyana, Suriname and elsewhere. With international collaboration efforts, the state needs to play a leading role to set the framework, but other players, such the Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago, also have very important potential roles. This is an area where, to date, there has been limited success in driving collaboration, despite the best intentions. 

There are clearly lots of potential areas for greater collaboration in the industry in order to maximise value. As always, this will involve significant discussion and working out of details. The 2018 Energy Conference offers an excellent opportunity to push forward greater collaboration and build on existing successes.