OPPOSITION Pointe-a-Pierre MP and shadow energy minister David Lee said the provisional license by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), allowing TT to extract gas from Venezuela, will not magically fix this country’s issues.
In a media release on Wednesday, a day after the Prime Minister announced the US approval for TT to extract gas from Venezuela, Lee said first gas from this project is years away.
Speaking at a media conference on Tuesday, Dr Rowley could not say when the first gas will be extracted but that the plan was moving “full speed ahead.”
Lee criticised: “We are years away from first gas. Make no mistake, this is not the UNC criticising as is the usual complaints of Government, this is the UNC highlighting the reality that this government still doesn't have an answer for more gas in the short or medium term, as the Dragon field and all other major gas projects listed by them, are years from first gas.”
“This announcement, while offering potential in years to come, doesn't change the vulnerable grim energy reality which is this government driving TT's oil and gas production to its lowest in 18 years because they failed to innovate the sector outside of this dragon field.
"This announcement offers little comfort when exploration and monetising of gas within our own borders continue to be a problem.”
The waiver came with stipulations, Rowley said, adding that some of it is still being ironed out. One of the terms imposed on the two-year license, eight less than Rowley had hoped, was that priority be given to Caribbean countries, except Cuba.
Venezuela will not be paid in cash but Rowley said that is not a major issue.
Responding to that stipulation, Lee said it is a cause for further concern.
Lee added that the licence cannot take away from the Government “suppressing and decimating” other avenues for increased gas production through a lack of innovation in failing to implement fiscal incentives that would have increased production.
Lee said TT needs an average of 4.1 cubic feet of gas (bcf) of gas per day to meet its proper demand while currently only producing 2.8 bcf. Dragon field he said is not the key to meet that demand.
“The key to this demand was increased innovation and creating an environment that encouraged more exploration. The UNC has never criticised the Dragon gas deal.
"We have always raised questions on the time line of implementation back in 2017/2018 because this Government highlighted it as the key to ending the gas shortage which we knew fully well was not possible."