Contributors at the Trinidad and Tobago Energy Chamber’s three-day Energy Conference, which kicked off at the Hyatt Regency on Tuesday, called for the Government to streamline approval processes, to shorten the time between bid rounds and achieving first gas.
Contributors made the call during a panel discussion including NGC president Mark Loquan; Eugene Okpere, senior vice president and country chairman of Shell TT; DeNovo Energy managing director Brian Ramsumair; BPTT president Claire Fitzpatrick; and Darryl White, CEO of RBC Financial Caribbean.
Okpere said the sooner gas molecules could be put into the pipeline for refining and sale, the better in terms of value. He noted a situation in Namibia where a team at Shell reduced the time to achieve first gas from 12-18 months to 28 days.
“The sooner we could get bid rounds out we can incentivise explorers to take the steps to find the resources,” Okpere said. “Any molecules that is possible, including marginal ones, overall, in that stage we can play our role better. The normal cycle times need to be challenged. I am confident that when we put our minds to it then we can.”
Fitzpatrick said during the panel discussion that BPTT is recognising that gas molecules have value and need to get into the system as fast as possible. Therefore shortening the time between approvals, exploration, extraction and refining – whether from a regulatory or a company perspective – should be good for all parties involved.
“You need a strong regulatory environment,” Fitzpatrick said in a conversation with Newsday after the discussion.
“So don’t think that we don’t believe there should be all of that.
"But there are ways that could streamline the process so we could shorten it. And if you can shorten it that would mean more economic value which means molecules get into the system faster.”
She added that trying to streamline approval processes and improve the ease of doing business in the energy industry is not unique to TT.
“The ease of doing business is something that is affecting every country in the world. It is up to this country to balance a strong regulatory framework and make it as efficient as possible.”
Ramsumair added that data on available blocks and all its details should also be made available to the public. He said it would help accelerate development by having people access data to make their own bids.
“This isn’t groundbreaking. It’s done all over the world.”
He also called for policies on infrastructure-sharing when there are hydrocarbons that are discovered near existing infrastructure.
“Policies should exist either through an industry initiative or through government, so we can understand that when we have these hydrocarbons, we have the ability to bring them to market because we understand how the molecules are going to get there.”
Minister of Energy Stuart Young admitted bureaucracy is one of the points of frustration for him at times as well.
“Anyone would be burying their heads in the sand if we didn’t acknowledge that sometimes the bureaucracy takes too long to get things done,” he said.
“We are at the critical and volatile stage that the world energy industry is at now, we need to speed up our processes while making sure that we dot our i's and cross our t’s, and for me to protect the people of TT.”
JD Sellier, in a catalogue of gas regulations worldwide, said the Ministry of Energy, in accordance with the Minerals Act, is responsible for the overall management of oil, gas and minerals in TT and also for regulating each sector.
Section 48 of the petroleum regulations indicates that exploration operations on a scale that has been agreed to between the minister and the licensee must start no later than a year from the effective date.
Regulation 50 says if a licensee should find oil in commercial quantities it must be produced without delay. However unless notice is given to the minister and approval is obtained, a licensee may not begin any activity.