Reading Government Atlantic LNG signals

Atlantic LNG, Point Fortin. File photo/Jeff Mayers
Atlantic LNG, Point Fortin. File photo/Jeff Mayers

A LOT IS not known about the Government’s efforts to restructure Atlantic LNG (ALNG), but that has not stopped its officials from boasting about the outcome of its efforts even as they are, reportedly, still in train.

“If I have done nothing for this country but to take us to this position, I am satisfied that my living has not been in vain,” the Prime Minister said with much satisfaction at a Cabinet media briefing last month. He announced his administration had been successful in renegotiating natural gas supply arrangements with upstream producers essential for the functioning of the four ALNG trains.

He further disclosed ownership of the trains had been “restructured,” a development made possible by retaining faith in the viability of train one.

“We were able to change the shareholding in the restructured LNG business in TT,” he said. “That is one of the most significant decisions we have been able to accomplish.”

If Dr Rowley described things in terms of a fait accompli, Stuart Young, his Minister of Energy, sees things slightly differently.

Speaking in the Senate on Friday, Mr Young gave the impression talks are still ongoing.

On the one hand, the minister, in shutting down opposition queries, said the talks relate to “confidential, commercial agreements that are currently being negotiated.”

On the other hand, he boasted of the Government’s transparency.

“We have, at every stage where there has been progress, told the nation what is going on,” he said.

Mr Young said “at the appropriate time, the necessary information, when completed, will be provided in full transparency that is permissible to the population.”

This approach of promising full transparency at some stage in the future, while at the same time seeking to claim victory and vindication in relation to matters unknown, requires the electorate to accept things cat-in-bag.

Without the finer details, it is impossible to truly gauge the scale of any achievements or even the appropriateness of government efforts in lobbying and meeting personally with vested interests in this matter.

What little we do know paints a picture in which any gains, substantial as they may be, will be qualified.

The advantages of the new shareholder arrangement might be tied to assumptions relating to gas supply from Venezuela’s Dragon Field.

But there are risks in making assumptions about that deal, given the pending presidential election there; the tenuous nature of the US sanctions carveout; the bubbling territorial dispute with Guyana; Venezuela’s track record on private-sector deals; and geopolitical turmoil internationally.

In 2022, the Government and ALNG’s shareholders signed a heads of agreement document to guide the company’s restructuring.

An Energy Ministry statement said the agreement was executed by the Government, BP, Shell TT and the National Gas Company (NGC).

The omission of the Chinese Investment Corporation (CIC), which has held a ten per cent stake in Train One, generated speculation that CIC is out.

We should not have to guess.

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"Reading Government Atlantic LNG signals"

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