DOES THE Dragon gas field belong to the United States? Do the Loran-Manatee, the Manakin-Cocuina and Kapok-Dorado gas fields belong to the US? Are Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela wards, dependencies or colonial outposts of the US? Are these cross-border gas fields, which the Governments of TT and Venezuela have been negotiating on for over 20 years, in the territorial waters of the US? Is there any bilateral or multilateral treaty between these states authorising the Government of the US, its servants or agents to own, mine or call the shots on any of these lucrative gas fields?
If the answer to all the above questions is no, why does the Government of TT have to get a licence from the US to mine or trade in gas from these fields? And beg the US to pursue its own development? Why did a delegation from our Government travel, attend meetings, plead before the US vice president to mine, trade and earn profits from fields in its own and its neighbour’s territorial waters? Why did the Government accept the punitive terms of trading with Venezuela in kind and not cash?
The US had promised to abort any Russian gas supply to Western Europe, and particularly energy-strapped Germany, which aborted its own nuclear plants under president Angela Merkel in July 2011. In a White House press conference on February 7, 2022, President Biden promised to “end” the Russian gas line to Western Europe, Nord Stream 2:
“If Russia invades, that is crossing the border into Ukraine, there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2…We will bring an end to it. I promise you, we will be able to do it.”
On September 26, 2022, the two strands of the Nord Stream pipelines, completed but not yet trading gas, were sabotaged by underwater clandestine bombs, put out of service. The US would much prefer that Europe and the US buy its LNG from Trinidad and non-Russian sources. It is in its interest to strategically co-opt the LNG trains in Trinidad.
So, not only is the TT Government placing itself within the confines of the US shady saboteur strategic energy security, it is begging the US to become its pawn, a proxy, a pussycat, a puppet of this militaristic and energy-guzzling nation. But we have seen from Ukraine, pawns, proxy, puppet, pussycat states, that would fawn and purr for their chosen master, die.
The principled position is to combine with the Venezuelan Government to reject the US imposition in their sovereign affairs, territory and trade. Not purr like the Energy Chamber and the Heliconia Foundation. What would the US government do to prevent such a routine, regular sovereign action by nation states? Invade, sack, loot and pillage our territory? Hardly.
And there are alternatives. The Government had taken little or no leadership role in developing our own alternative energy. It has shut down Petrotrin and all its fuel-manufactories and now import fuels. The cross-border fields are there. They are sovereign assets.
Billions of gas money has passed through our system, like the proverbial “dose of salts,” yet unsolved ills plague our society: dystopian crime, criminal justice system, traffic, literacy standards at our primary schools, health and environmental standards, food import bills, low-wage income for the majority of working citizens, and inflation. Gas has not fixed these. And though it will help, the gas will not run away.
The sovereign assets of Caroni (1975) Ltd, Petrotrin, the Chatham Dairy Farm, with all of their lands and productive assets, have been dismantled. Successive governments have tried to dismantle others: the Chatham Forest Reserve, the La Brea/Vessigny beach front, the Claxton Bay fisheries and mangrove system, the Oropouche South food basin, the St Augustine Nurseries, and many formerly lucrative crop sectors – citrus, coconut, coffee, cacao and sugar cane.
Selling the sovereignty of the nation for a few dollars more, to prop up the Government for another five years, to once more compromise our nation’s residual sovereignty, becoming involved in dangerous geopolitical pussycat games, is a nasty trade-off for the economic and political well-being of TT.