AS Government ponders the future of Atlantic LNG Train 1, which may be mothballed, former energy minister Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan is advising the Rowley administration to count their losses and move on.
“That LNG train has come to an end. You can’t do anything about this. That money is lost. It’s a total loss. It is a sunk cost. You cannot throw more money after a bad investment,” she said, referring to the millions that have been spent by minority shareholder National Gas Company (NGC) as it hopes to find cheap gas markets to supply the train.
The train has been idled since November 2020 because of the unavailability of natural gas.
At the Prime Minister’s news conference on Saturday, Energy Minister Stuart Young said discussions with shareholders are at a very sensitive stage.
“We are in a global environment and we continue to be in very serious discussions with all of the shareholders of Atlantic LNG, and at an appropriate time announcements will be made.
“We have been playing our cards and moving chess pieces very, very carefully. Now is not the time to disrupt that.”
Former Point Fortin Chamber president Raymond Aaron said the situation with Train 1, imposed on top of the covid19 restrictions, just extends the period of distress for residents.
Stating that at a time when the world is looking at renewable sources of energy, and with gas not available, Government has to be more transparent and held accountable.
“Now is not the time to be playing around with markets and prices since there are cheaper sources available worldwide from newer plants.”
Seepersad-Bachan said the writing has been on the wall for some time, “that we would not be able to sustain LNG, not only in terms of supply but because of the pricing.”
“I am not surprised. The writing was on the wall all the time. The majority shareholders - (bpTT 34 per cent, Shell 46 per cent) – refused to invest because they do not see in the future the economic viability of that train going forward.”
She said the four gas master plans confirmed the need to move away from LNG, hence the reasons under her tenure with the People's Partnership administration to a new direction for the energy sector in terms of gas allocation.
She said the plan was to use less gas to produce more output in the downstream petrochemical sector, and to use or sustain the higher prices of natural gas and still be profitable.
As the world turns to renewable sources of energy, she warned against trying to reinvigorate a disappearing economy by using old strategies, but for TT to get on board or slide further down the competitive index.
“There is a new economy that is emerging globally and we are not preparing ourselves to take part in that new economy, in terms of efficiency, a new direction.”
“I have been making the point from day one that the time will come when we have to put a new direction in the energy sector.
“All this pandemic did for us was to accelerate that future.”
Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee said the revelation that the National Gas Company (NGC) (a minority shareholder) has reportedly spent $250 million on the turnaround on a plant that is to be mothballed is another damning wound to the already struggling economy.
“We call on the Government to tell us if this million-dollar turnaround was an act to deceive the population and cover up that yet another plant had been crippled due to their mismanagement of the natural gas sector.”
Given the dire economic times facing our citizens, he said Government must tell the nation who authorized the NGC to spend taxpayers money when they knew fully well the prevailing gas shortage would hinder the plant, especially when NGC is recording billion-dollar losses.