OPPOSITION Senator Wade Mark's private motion on Trinidad and Tobago's Dragon gas deal with Venezuela was dismissed, with Senate president Nigel De Freitas having the final say as the votes were split 15-15.
The US$1 billion deal was signed in 2018 and included companies such as Shell, Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA and the National Gas Company (NGC).
The deal will see TT developing the field, estimated to produce approximately 150 million standard cubic feet of gas a day.
Last November, Mark raised a private motion, calling for more transparency from the government about the deal, and detailed accounts of how each company involved would be contributing.
The only government senator who contributed to the debate was Energy Minister Stuart Young.
During the Senate sitting on Tuesday afternoon, Mark said he was disappointed as he did "not hear governmental intervention apart from (Young)...who spoke and gave us a historical evolution of the energy sector. We didn't get much details on this very important matter."
He said the motion was meant to let government inform this country with further details of the deal and to hold accountability.
However, he added that he knew the government would not support the motion.
"We have brought this motion because we understand what is going on, we understand the geopolitics, we understand the risks associated with this project..."
Independent Senator Deoroop Teemal said he preferred to call the "deal" a contract, since the word deal "carries certain connotations.
"It gives the wrong impression of the genuine intentions behind this contract."
He too agreed there should be more transparency on something so major and questioned what risk analysis was done for it.
"The public needs to know (and) have information on that," he said.
Opposition Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial agreed, but reassured government the motion was "not meant to diminish the importance of the deal, not to criticise the progress that has been reported to the nation in terms of securing what is important to TT...
"It is because of the importance of this deal and how important it is to the lives and livelihoods of every citizen of this country..."
A responsible Opposition, she said, had a duty to "bring forth concerns and try to obtain information where there may be a lack of clarity."
She said the deal is much more than two people sitting in a room and negotiating a simple contract.
"There are many, many factors at play and, particularly with this deal, there are many variables that can affect this deal that are simply outside the control of TT and by extension, the citizens of TT."
Lutchmedial said it is crucial for TT's energy sector to be revitalised or plans will simply "be lying idle.
"Much of our prosperity as a nation depends on oil and gas...We still have questions about how this deal will be done."
Reminding that NGC is a state-owned company, she said the public has a right to more information.
Ordinary citizens, she said, may not understand the weight this deal holds and the risks that come with it, so it is up to the government to explain that to them.
"People ought not to take a narrow-minded approach to this...Opening the eyes of citizens will help them to evaluate the viability of this deal and we ought not to deprive citizens of that opportunity."
She said risk factors include elections in Venezuela, as well as that country's ongoing dispute with Guyana.
Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne chimed in, saying the Guyana dispute was not relevant, but she disagreed.
"I don't know why this government is so committed to keeping people in the dark. I don't know if it makes them feel powerful."
Accountability, she said, is what Parliament is all about.
"Are we just going to say, 'The dragon dancing,' and sit (there)? All hopes and dreams cannot be on one deal."
When it came to the vote, all nine present independent senators and six Opposition senators voted in favour of the motion, and 15 government senators said no. This meant it was up to De Freitas to break the tie.
He said, "As I've indicated on other occasions before, when I'm called upon to give a casting vote, precedence does dictate that the status quo must remain. In this particular situation, the motion calls for something to occur, which has been read out before, and as such, given that it is an even vote...I must vote no in order to maintain the status quo.
"As such, the motion is not carried."
This led to desk-thumping from government senators, while Opposition senators teasingly did the same.
Banter was then exchanged across the floor.