Promising bid round should not halt change

Energy Minister Stuart Young listens closely to acting permanent secretary Sandra Fraser and permanent secretary Penelope Bradshaw-Niles during opening of onshore/neashore bids at the ministry in Port of Spain on Monday. - ROGER JACOB
Energy Minister Stuart Young listens closely to acting permanent secretary Sandra Fraser and permanent secretary Penelope Bradshaw-Niles during opening of onshore/neashore bids at the ministry in Port of Spain on Monday. - ROGER JACOB

THE RECENT onshore and nearshore bid round yielded 16 bids and for Minister of Energy and Energy Industries Stuart Young, the result was unsurprising.

Yet even the minister must have breathed a sigh of relief when tenders were opened on Monday at the Ministry of Energy in Port of Spain.

Only a few months ago, only four bids were received during a deepwater bid round, all from the same consortium.

Mr Young back then cited the influence of energy company shareholders who have called on executives to avoid exploring new provinces. He also cited the “the way the global energy sector is set up.”

This week, however, such factors seemed immaterial.

However it is explained, the more recent result, which relates to onshore blocks offered in south Trinidad which are believed to be easier to manage, can be taken as a sign of confidence or, at least, of a perception of there being significant untapped potential still to be tapped into by energy companies. That’s notable for an industry that is already a century old.

All of this is just in time for the upcoming TT Energy Conference due in a few weeks, an event which often serves as a barometer of industry thinking.

It is undoubtedly good that this country still has a place within the global petrochemical sector. Six bids opened on Monday presumably related to foreign firms, with no representatives being present for signing.

In recent times, there have been shifts within the energy landscape, or at least attempts to engender a sense of upward momentum and optimism.

A new arrangement in relation to Atlantic LNG, which is expected to involve the consolidation of all four trains, is in the works, with Mr Young and the Prime Minister among the government officials front and centre at the recent signing of heads of agreement with Shell TT, bpTT and the National Gas Company.

At the same time, there is a stated focus on renewables, with Mr Young and others teasing the prospect of large solar facilities. The Government would like ten per cent of the energy conversation to involve renewables.

While some think that benchmark too low, and while there are awkward questions about the commitment of major energy players to net zero, what is clear is the imperative to wean this country’s economy off one basket of commodities.

The winds of change precipitated by climate change are evident, but so too is the international recognition of, for instance, the prospects offered by countries such as Guyana.

Guyana’s Energy Conference and Expo will take place mere weeks after TT’s and will feature major industry players, and possibly representatives from this country.

Meanwhile, Government anticipates 2023 will be rosier for citizens, largely on the strength of revenue gains that relate to the oil and gas sector, a sector which it wishes us to maintain in the medium term as a pragmatic transitionary measure.

Notwithstanding the results of the recent bid round, some of these gains need to be diverted into robust diversification efforts.

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"Promising bid round should not halt change"

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