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.

At NGC we share the sentiment pervading the current energy landscape; our energy sector is at a critical transition. This is not the result of any specific action or decision, but rather representative of the cyclical nature of the industry combined with a lack of timely upstream investments. The volatility of commodity prices causes market price fluctuations even in times of a supply glut or excess demand. Despite these challenges, our energy sector is resilient enough to withstand the turbulence inherent to this line of business. This has been proven in history. We have successfully negotiated downturns from 1908, the first year of commercial crude production, to the present day.  However, while success of our sector in the past is testament to our endurance, the way forward will take greater innovation and collaboration to navigate the challenging period ahead.

The task is daunting, but it is not insurmountable.

There were a number of noteworthy ideas and effective conversations surrounding the sustainable growth of our energy sector over the course of the Energy Conference. Despite the heavy influence of international market forces on our domestic sector, there were many solutions offered for us to emerge from this downturn thriving. Imperative to remaining competitive on the global market, greater synergies across the sector are required to move from the point of noble notion into action.

At NGC we believe one such area for collaboration is monetizing gas in small and marginal fields both offshore and onshore. Taking advantage of opportunities such as these will provide incremental increases in supply. For many of the larger operators these fields are not necessarily an area of priority, as focus is mainly on fields with greater reserves in shallow waters. We are currently working with the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries, Petrotrin and upstreamers to bring these gas pools online in a shorter time frame as this will assist in alleviating the gas curtailment situation, at least in the medium term. One option is possible partnerships between smaller, agile players, and larger infrastructure owners.

Molecular efficiency is also of priority focus to NGC. A balance must be struck in order to optimize molecular efficiency. It is a known fact that many plants are not operating at full capacity, some plants are more efficient than others in terms of the newer technology employed, and other plants consist of aging infrastructure. Process improvement and maintenance works include turnarounds and downtime, which will be done at substantial costs to both the plants as well as NGC. Many operators, rightly so, are hesitant to carry out these works without certainty of long term gas supply conditions. The question remains: how can collaboration solve these issues?

These combined factors along with the fact that power generation is a major element of natural gas use, forces us to take a closer look and apply greater efforts to improve molecular efficiency. At this time of gas curtailment, the efficiency of our power generation comes into question. It is possible for greater efficiencies in the process, as seen with the TGU and Penal combined cycle plants. Inefficient operations in the older plants coupled with subsidies in power generation leads us to consume molecules which do not generate the best value for our customers or Trinidad and Tobago.

Beyond domestic boundaries, across-the-border fields have been an ongoing collaborative conversation. These conversations involve both corporate entities and governments. They are classified as medium term options for increased supply, and we are working diligently on securing these opportunities, especially in the case of Dragon where we have ongoing discussion with Shell and PDVSA. It must be noted that NGC even explored the potential of utilizing Floating Storage Regasification Units (FSRUs) and importing gas, however, we have decided that this option is infeasible.

NGC has worked long and hard at identifying new opportunities, as the catalyst for transformation and innovation with direct conversations with all stakeholders. This includes greater international collaboration, tapping into new markets, closer working relationships with GORTT agencies, and finding novel ways to do business. Echoing the sentiments of industry leaders; in times like these, greater synchronization of efforts will yield the most fruitful results. Collaboration for growth, building institutional capacity for the future, and greater use of technology to support the business is the way forward.