Creating a task force, advocacy, increased speed of action and collaboration were key points highlighted by upcoming voices in the energy sector at the Young Leaders Forum.
The forum, at the Hyatt in Port of Spain on Tuesday, was part of the Energy Chamber's three-day energy conference, which began on Monday.
Julian Brathwaite, chemical engineer at the LNG group and downstream petroleum management division at the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industry, began by acknowledging the collaborative discussions around technological partnerships.
“There is a lot of opportunity for partnerships – we need more.”
Brathwaite said the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential were already being explored in many sectors, including energy.
“Whether it can be applied effectively will depend on the availability of large training datasets as well as assessing and mitigating the risks of implementing these systems.”
He said he was encouraged by companies and stakeholders exploring and integrating AI into their businesses, saying it offered the opportunity to improve innovation.
"The energy sector has always benefited from access to higher-quality data to improve decision-making. There are many new technologies being developed and utilised that will improve the level of detail and speed of access to data at lower costs. This gives the sector a lever to improve the efficiency of operations."
As an upcoming voice in the sector, Brathwaite says it’s important all stakeholders remain on the same page on its overall goals, while taking into context the changing international landscape.
“Working in silos will not lead to the progress we desire. Having open forums such as the energy conference to share and discuss various perspectives is necessary. I am grateful for the opportunity to add my voice and hopeful that we continue to include more diverse voices in the conversation.”
Production technology manager at Atlantic Amanda Hunte-Balgobin said she was optimistic about the future of the energy industry, despite recent uncertainties.
"Atlantic was born in the 1990s, in a time with similar-type sentiments: apprehension, uncertainty, recession.
"Amidst all the scepticism back then, we were able to successfully construct Train 1, the first greenfield LNG plant in the Western Hemisphere, and up until last quarter, we celebrated the shipment of its 4,700th cargo.”
She said in the midst of transitioning to reduce the global impacts of climate change, through innovation and young people, the sector will navigate successfully.
"TT has already started seeing the negative effects of climate change. There is an urgent need for industry-wide decarbonisation efforts through the use of cleaner-burning fuels and alternative energy sources. The challenge posed is, how do we safely and efficiently deliver competitive, low-carbon energy?
"We have some of the most talented professionals tackling this challenge."
Hunte-Balgobin believes the development and implementation of a strategic pathway for decarbonisation is important, as the sector focuses on securing and retaining talent as a key to building the skills and institutional capacity needed for the energy transition.
While most of the planned long-term reduction options will depend on advanced technological innovation, in day-to-day operations, she said there are many opportunities to leverage technology to increase efficiency.
“Atlantic has already begun upskilling its workforce to meet the technological demand (data scientists, cybersecurity specialists, to name a few). A new skill set and approach are needed to change, attract and retain the right talent.
"The younger generation is eager to be part of the transition, but for this to take place, opportunities for innovation using technology need to be created, as young minds are recommending out-of-the-box solutions."
She concluded by saying the industry has come a long way with respect to inclusion and diversity in what was once a male-dominated field.
"The voices of female energy professionals are heard and were clearly articulated throughout the conference. I am honoured to be able to represent the thoughts and concerns of the younger generation, which I also believe were welcomed and well received."
Rachael Abraham, planning superintendent of operations at Phoenix Park Gas Processors, said technology is the way to improve the sector.
"The sector can only be successful by having a faster response strategy when problems are encountered. There is a lot of value in utilising technology in planning and project management."
Abraham said taking the initiative is important and will determine the success of the industry, while identifying collaboration and partnerships as key components.
Abraham said investing in people is crucial to a successful and profitable industry, and reiterated her concerns over timely responsiveness.
"Setting dates, planning projects and time management, along with implementing the right technology platform, will increase the efficiency of an operational outset that already exists.”
Amrit Ramnanan, maintenance manager at Methanex, spoke about new ways the country can leverage its methanol as he revisited past challenges in accelerating action in diversifying the energy economy.
Ramnanan said the next question the industry should be asking is about shipping methodology.
"When you look at the value chain, we have products already here, and we are looking to expand the market. So why not add another link to that value chain by doing something that is clean? It's a clear pathway."
He said TT's close proximity to the Panama Canal makes the country a major hub.
"Sixty per cent of ships travel through the canal. We are in a geographic position to leverage the methanol ships that come to our ports."
Ramnanan questioned the sector's lack of investment in a profitable spin-off untapped market.
"Shipbuilding and ship repair services are a whole new avenue, but I think the question is: are we ready to take action to make that happen?"