Interview: Gerry Brooks

How is the Natural Gas Master Plan 2014-24 significant for the future of T&T’s energy sector?

GERRY BROOKS: In the context of a rapidly changing global energy landscape, domestic gas production shortfalls and major upstream and downstream agreements due for renewal in the next three years, the emergence of the master plan is timely. The plan takes a fresh look at the trend lines around domestic gas availability, allocation between local consumption and exports, netbacks to the country and downstream development. T&T’s annual gas demand is currently around 4.2bn standard cu feet (scf); 1.7bn-1.8bn scf is consumed domestically and the balance is exported. With production shortfalls during the past five years, combined with depleting reservoirs, a project like BP T&T’s Juniper is significant but, by itself, will not allow us to significantly shift our production curve.

Within the context of the master plan, the industry is looking at our upstream work programme to make sure the exploration and drilling activity can meet and exceed T&T’s demand requirements over the next five to seven years. Cross-border gas development, deepwater drilling – which is projected to bring gas on-line by 2024 – and work around the country’s approximately 50 shallow-water marginal fields, will inevitably play a major role in this process.

What initiatives could improve the level of internationalisation in T&T’s gas industry?

BROOKS: The industry is more aggressively pursuing opportunities both regionally and globally to improve our investment portfolio and reduce earnings volatility. Regionally, our technical and pipeline capabilities can help jurisdictions like Guyana, Barbados and Suriname to monetise their resources, review their seismic programmes and put the right infrastructure in place. Moreover, we are looking at cross-border gas fields with Venezuela, including the Dragon Field and the whole Mariscal basin, Loran-Manatee, Kapok-Doran, and Manakin-Cocuina. T&T has recently formed technical and commercial working groups with Venezuela to guide us on the next steps. Dragon is estimated to have between 2.4trn scf and 4.3trn scf of gas. Because of the already concluded technical work, proximity to infrastructure and the will of the parties, we are working on a three-year horizon to develop the field. This could set the framework for monetisation of larger fields like Loran-Manatee.

T&T has also re-energised its interest in Ghana. Since 2010 Ghana’s energy sector has grown and has the potential to develop further with the right partnerships. There are several opportunities we have specifically identified. The first involves processing gas from their Jubilee, TEN Area and Offshore Cape Three Points fields. In addition, our companies are planning to partner on the maintenance and expansion of Ghana’s only gas processing facility in Atuabo, while looking at the introduction of a cryogenic facility to improve its efficiency. A second possible partnership involves the construction of a 275-km pipeline taking gas from Takoradi to Tema.

Are there opportunities to develop new businesses within the national gas value chain?

BROOKS: NGC is actively supporting exploration and production developments and is itself prepared to expand its upstream business to secure and grow the local natural gas industry.

Through the National Energy Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (National Energy), T&T is exploring downstream ventures that can replicate the success stories of methanol and ammonia. Beyond our recent investments in dimethyl ether, for instance, we are now looking at dimethyl carbonate. Other key downstream areas that National Energy is considering are plastics and aluminium, as well as alternative energy projects. To this end, different models of foreign direct investment participation can be explored.