The annual Trinidad & Tobago Energy Conference is set to kick off on Monday morning, 18th January 2016 in Port of Spain.  Despite oil prices around the US$ 30 mark and downward pressure on the price of Trinidad & Tobago’s major export, liquefied natural gas (LNG), participation in what has become the biggest annual energy conference in the Caribbean region remains high.

 Dax Driver, CEO of the host organisation, the Energy Chamber of Trinidad & Tobago, says that delegate numbers have fallen slightly since 2015, but that the conference is still expecting over 600 registered delegates at the main conference and over a thousand other visitors to the trade show and participants in associated events.  Driver explains: “we have seen a significant decrease in attendance from the state-sector in Trinidad & Tobago, which is not surprising given the cost cutting measures currently being implemented. However, this has been largely offset by increased participation from both the domestic and international private-sector. I think that speaks volumes for both the reputation of this conference and the strong fundamentals of the Trinidad & Tobago energy industry”. 

The Energy Chamber, which was known as the South Trinidad Chamber up until 2010, has been organising the annual conference since 1988.  Over the years it has grown to become the most well respected and biggest conference in the region.  This year’s edition takes place against the backdrop of low commodity prices and a Trinidad & Tobago economy in recession, but features a strong line up of industry and government speakers, including both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Energy.  

Renowned economist, Professor Jeffrey Sachs of the Earth Institute at the University of Colombia, will be presenting a keynote address exploring the implications of climate change and the challenge of sustainable development for a small hydrocarbon economy.  Dr Pierce Reimer, Director General of the World Petroleum Council will be presenting a second keynote address proving an overview of the current major issues facing the global energy sector. 

Given the fact that BHP Billiton have recently conducted the world’s second biggest seismic acquisition campaign in their Trinidad & Tobago deep-water acreage and are gearing up for a drilling campaign later this year, the third keynote presentation by Dr David Rainey, President of Exploration at BHP Billiton Petroleum, will also be eagerly anticipated by an industry looking for positive signs.

The first day of the Energy Conference will also tackle other overarching issues facing the energy sector and the impact of the current commodity markets on the economy.  In addition to looking at the specifics of the oil and gas industry, panels will also explore what the current situation means for the economy and will identify some of the policy measures that are needed for economic restructuring.

After an opening session featuring Ministers with responsibility for energy from Guyana, Barbados and the Dominican Republic, the second day of the conference concentrates on company updates on upcoming activity and technical presentations on issues such as asset integrity and HSE. 

A final plenary discussion session consisting of the leaders of the conference’s platinum sponsors will sum up the discussions of the previous two days and try to set the agenda for some of the policy issues that the industry and the country needs to address over the coming year.

The third and final day of the conference consists of a half-day workshop that will explore how a proper understanding of reserves is crucial for both the industry and national policy-makers, and a Green Energy Day that will concentrate on renewable energy and energy efficiency issues.

A trade show, with exhibitions from a wide range of companies, runs alongside the conference over the three-days.  The trade show is open to industry participants from Monday afternoon through to Wednesday afternoon.  Over the past few years the exhibition has attracted over a thousand other visitors who have come to meet with exhibitors and discuss business opportunities. The organisers are anticipating similar numbers in 2016.

Despite the gloomy economic outlook, the interest in the 2016 Energy Conference indicates that there is a strong future ahead for the industry and the country, if they can weather the current storm.   Driver points out that “the Chamber held its first Petroleum Conference in 1988 at the depths of the recession.  There were some really important policy ideas coming out of that conference that were quickly implemented and led to the creation of the modern small independent oil sector onshore Trinidad.  I hope that the conference, also being held in the midst of a recession, will be able to generate similar policy measures and contribute to the revitalisation and restructuring of the economy of Trinidad & Tobago”.