THE EDITOR: I offer some comments on the 2020 budget as it relates to energy, and on the energy situation in general as it currently stands and also going forward.
Highlights re: budget
Others have commented in some detail about many aspects of the budget so I will not repeat those issues. Two however are important enough to dwell on:
Supplemental Petroleum Tax (SPT)
I (and I am sure all upstream operators) am disappointed that the issue with SPT kicking in at US$50.01 – a rate at which all producers receive less money until prices reach US$60 or more – was not addressed by the Minister of Finance.
This was partly offset by an increase in the allowance for approved enhanced oil recovery projects and rehabilitated fields from 20 to 25 per cent. But at the same time accelerated tax write-downs were removed.
Net effect is little or no benefit.
The minister used an estimated oil price for West Texas intermediate of US$60 per barrel. But there is uncertainty as to how Heritage will sell its oil and our oil (ie all the independent producers who have contracts or licences with them) going forward after the refinery and Paria Trading sales go through. Will we receive less than we have been getting for the last 12 months?
Longer-term issues relating to increasing oil production, renewable energy, energy conservation, climate change, and environmental pollution
Over the long term, we need to:
* Generate all our electricity from renewables
* Emit no greenhouse gases
* Have zero waste
Other countries have been actively striving to attain these goals and are getting there. For the sake of our future generations we must do the same.
In the interim here are some measures we can take to get us on that path:
CO2 enhanced oil recovery (EOR)
We should all agree that our long-term goals re: energy generation, CO2 and energy usage should be at least carbon neutral. That is to say we need to emit less carbon dioxide than we are emitting.
We have not yet recognised that we are wasting a huge opportunity to significantly increase oil production and to reduce our huge carbon footprint by using the CO2 being vented for EOR and sequestration and thus eliminate all our major CO2 emissions.
The giving of LED bulbs to households and the removal of all duties and taxes on LED bulbs is a good start. But just a start.
Duties and taxes should be removed on all renewable energy equipment like PV panels, wind turbines, wave and stream energy turbines, etc.
Feed-in tariff legislation should be brought into law ASAP to allow all householders and private companies to generate their own electricity and sell the surplus to T&TEC.
The importation of incandescent bulbs should be banned. Consideration should be given to a similar ban on fluorescent bulbs (which all contain the very harmful chemical mercury).
The law should be changed to allow all households (and companies) to collect and use rain water free of charge.
The banning of non-biodegradable, non-compostable containers and single-use plastic products like straws, wrapping materials, bags and bottles should be immediate and comprehensive. Care should be taken to ensure that substitutes have no health or other issues.
River courses and waterways can be equipped with net-like traps at strategic places like bridges (as has been done in other countries) to trap all debris like disposable containers.
Cepep and URP or similar-type organisations should be used to routinely clean all beaches and river mouths.
I recognise that there are other issues that can and perhaps should be addressed, but to me the ones I raise here are the most pressing and important.
I need to mention that I write as an impartial individual and have no political affiliations or hidden agendas.