The long-awaited flagship NP (National Petroleum Marketing Company Ltd) service station near the Preysal flyover, which opened on Wednesday, has been dubbed another milestone by Energy and Energy Industries Minister Stuart Young.
Young said the Government views the opening as a significant achievement in developing the compressed natural gas (CNG) industry since the Government approved the introduction of CNG as part of the transportation fuel mix in 1992.
“From then to now, the government has attempted to place a substantial focus on the acceleration on the use of CNG,” Young said.
He added that in light of growing global trends and demands for more environmentally-friendly fuels, the reduction of carbon emissions continues to be at the forefront of the global and the Government’s agenda.
He delivered the feature address at the opening ceremony at the solar-powered station at the corner of Rivulet Road and Solomon Hochoy Highway in Couva.
The initiative was a collaborative venture between NP, National Gas Company (NGC) CNG, and the National Energy Corporation’s Sustainable Energy Division.
The station stands on over 65,000 square feet of land. Described as an ultra-modern new-to-industry site, it also has 20 filling spots, ten for liquid fuels (premium, super and diesel) and ten for CNG.
Young complimented all stakeholders in the project, saying most of the construction took place in the last 18 months, during the covid19 pandemic.
Telling the history of the site, he said the Dr Keith Rowley administration had made lemonade from lemons.
“When this government came in 2015, this site was one of the lemons left,” Young said.
“Within recent times, we have heard very unwarranted attacks on the NGC Group of companies with no basis. As the Prime Minister and I have said, the time is not yet right for us to be able to provide the full story as what has gone on recently with NGC Group.”
He said the Government continues to manoeuvre some very complicated and complex negotiations with some of the world's larger oil and gas producers.
Young charged that just before the general election in 2015, over $26 million was spent out of the NGC group on a government directive to "basically build a foundation and build certain booths that had absolutely no use. It was labelled a 'beautification project.'
"So I remind those who have the audacity now to challenge all of the good work that has been going on at NGC as they continue to deliver in their commitment to get value for the people of TT, I remind them that we, the population will not forget what they did with the NGC Group.”
Young said when the government took office in 2015, over $30 million in cash had been expended on the site with absolutely no purpose apart from the use of the word “beautification.”
He described the present service station as one of the best in the English-speaking Caribbean.
Young said from 2013 onwards, NGC CNG Co Ltd has led the CNG initiative with strategic partnership with many private and public entities.
The inception of the overall CNG programme, he said, had environmental and economic benefits. As of December 2020, the CNG initiative has resulted the carbon-dioxide emission-reduction of approximately 31,500 metric tonnes from 2014-2020 and a liquid fuel subsidy reduction of $18.5 million.
He said from what he was told, the natural gas vehicle population in TT stands at about 10,000. Young said he hopes the figure increases to 17,000 during the next year.
Among those at the ceremony were NP chairman Sahid Hosein, NGC CNG president Curtis Mohammed, head of the Energy Chamber Dr Thackwray “Dax” Driver and service-station dealer Premnath Dindial.
Young reiterated that the Government is focused on renewable energy and is looking at other areas of carbon-neutral energy supply.
The service station also has an electric charging system.
“I am thrilled to see the first electric charger portal for electric vehicles, a public one,” Young said.
“To prepare ourselves, this ministry, with the Ministry of Planning, is preparing a Cabinet note to seek it’s approval to open this up with a number of incentives, a number of policies to get electric vehicle progressing in TT.
“That is something that I am adamant has to happen in the coming weeks so it can begin to be implemented.”
Young said the Government is seeking to increase the number of electric vehicles in TT.
Many countries, he said, have signalled a transition from the sales of new vehicles using internal combustion engines by as early as 2025, and several car manufacturers have decided to stop manufacturing internal combustion engines soon.
Another focus for the government is the Utility Scale solar power project. This is expected to produce up to 112. 2 megawatts of electricity to meet TT’s emission-reduction commitments in the electricity sector.
Lightsource Renewable Global Development Ltd, Shell TT Ltd and BP Alternative Energy TT Ltd formed a consortium for the project.
There will be two sites, Couva and Trincity 20.
“If all goes according to plan, I look forward to its construction commencing next year,” Young said.
“I have a meeting with the stakeholders this afternoon. I am happy that I can report to them that we finally got one of these alternative generation licences issued.”