Trinidad and Tobago is facing an "unabated decline" in its oil and gas reserves and production, and the country must act quickly to revive the industry, T&T's new energy minister, Nicole Olivierre, said Tuesday in a speech to the Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago.
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So far this year, oil production is about 81,000 b/d, the "lowest level ever in this country," Olivierre said, while natural gas production averages 3.86 Bcf/d. Gas production peaked in 2010 with production of 4.3 Bcf/d and production of oil and condensate averaged 98,100 b/d in 2010, she said.
"There is need to reinvigorate the industry to accelerate production, to build back reserves and to provide the certainty of gas supply to domestic industry to enable it to move from the current short term planning to a longer horizon," said Olivierre, who was appointed energy minister last month.
The oil production decline stems from a lack of new discoveries and a reduction in condensate production, she said. With the exception of the lease operators, oil production has been stagnant, she added.
Trinidad and Tobago's state-owned Petrotrin, which owns the rights in the most prospective land and marine acreages, "has failed to engender any significant increase in production in its portfolio," Olivierre said. "It is therefore time to take a serious look at Petrotrin to determine its capability to effectively exploit its hydrocarbon resources." A new board overseeing the company will assess Petrotrin's capability and chart a way forward, "understanding that the country cannot wait forever for the company to get its act together," Olivierre said.
Petrotrin, which runs the nation's 168,000 b/d Pointe-a-Pierre refinery, has been struggling to cope with lower oil and product prices and decreased production.
Regarding the gas situation, including ongoing supply shortfalls that have negatively impacted the nation's LNG production, the government plans to focus on alleviating the imbalance between the supply and demand for gas, Olivierre said.
"At present, the industry is characterized by inadequate supply which has led to short-term contractual arrangements and a state of uncertainty, given that the contracts between the upstream operators and [National Gas Co.] are due to expire over the period 2015 to 2018," she said.
"Accordingly, I have instructed NGC to take immediate steps to expedite these negotiations and complete in the earliest timeframe," she said. "This should provide a level of comfort and certainty to the domestic gas based industries in relation to the gas available from existing reserves."