A view of the Pt Lisas Industrial Estate from the Gulf of Paria. (Image courtesy Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago)

There is more encouraging news in the energy sector as Paul Baay the President and Chief Executive officer of Touchstone Exploration company has revealed that the first gas from its Coho discovery to flow in early May with production from its Ortoire discoveries by the end of the year.

This according to Baay will lead to an addition of 100 million standard cubic feet of natural gas to the national production, all of which will go into petrochemicals and electricity.

In an interview with the Business Guardian Baay said, “The first gas that we are looking at Ortoire would be early May and then the second phase that we are looking at, which is the second facility coming on stream would come on in ahh, we are hoping for the start of August time frame.

The first phase is about 10 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscf/d) and the second phase 60 mmscf/d, getting ramped up to 90 mmscf/d during 4th quarter, so by the end of the year about 100 mmscf/d will be coming out of Ortoire.”

The news comes a week after the country’s largest natural gas producer, bpTT, revealed the disappointing news that its production in 2022 was likely to be a relatively depressed 1,250 mmscf/d compared to the 2 billion cubic feet it has usually produced.

As reported exclusively in last week’s Business Guardian bpTT said: “We expect production for 2022 to be within the same range.”

The company blamed technical issues for the precipitous decline in production in 2021 and it admitted that even the coming on stream of its Cassia C project will only hold production in place.

“During 2021 we experienced accelerated production decline due to technical issues, which was partially offset when we brought Matapal onto production in September. For 2022, production levels will be supported by gas from Matapal, and the Cassia C development which is planned to come online in 3Q 2022.”

According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries for the first 11 months of 2021 natural gas production averaged 2.578 bscf/d with the production of 2.385 bscf/d in November compared to 3.001 bscf/d in January.

The decline almost mirrors bpTT’s production with it falling from January when it was 1.525 bscf/d to 1.265 in November 2021.

But while bpTT is the major challenge, since it is the largest natural gas producer, Royal Dutch Shell continues to produce at relatively low levels. From January to November last year Shell’s production averaged 498 mmscf/d.

Baay said the gas will comprise of 10 mmscf/d from Coho and the other 90 mmscf/d out of Cascadura.

“It will be both cascadura wells, the first cascadura well will produce about 55mmscf/d and cascadura deep will be about 35mmscf/d.”

The company does not expect to get condensate out of its Coho well since it is dry gas but said at Cascadura it is expecting to produce about 20 barrels per mmscf/d so at 90mmscf/d its roughly 1800 barrels of oil per day (bo/d) in condensate. This will also assist the country’s overall crude production.

It must be noted this is a new development and will be a net addition to the country’s oil and gas production.

But the good news does not end there according to Baay who said Touchstone expects that the production out of Ortoire will be much more by the end of 2023.

“We are designing the facility at Cascadura for 200 mmscf/d, so it will start at 60mmscf/d, it will go to 90 mmscf/d before the end of the year and then with the additional drilling we are going to do later this year and early next year we would see that facility get up to about 200mmscf/d by the end of 2023.” Baay told the BG.

Jobs being created

Baay said the development will lead to jobs being created in the Rio Claro area with opportunities for operating both the Coho facility and the Cascadura facility. There will also be a need for security services, maintenance and operation. Baay estimates at least 28 people will be employed.

Major oil find made

Baay said it appears that the country did not realise that the recent announcement of an oil discovery in its Royston well was a major development in the local energy sector.

He told BG “If you look at Penal block, it has produced over 100 million barrels of oil, and this is 1938 and it is basically a look alike to what we found at Royston, like similar depths, similar type of crude so I am not sure people fully understand how significant the Royston discovery was.”

Baay added, “I can only tell you part of it because we are in the middle of doing an independent engineering report which will come out on March 14, but just from what we have seen from the seismic we have shot and the well we drilled, this is a structure that is approximately 7km long and 2km wide and it holds hundreds of millions of barrels of oil (in place) we know that now and what this is going to mean is a very active drilling programme and I think significant volumes of oil for the country coming out of that block for the next couple of years.”

He was asked about the extent of the faulting in the area which has made Trinidad and Tobago notorious in its inability to recover a lot of the oil it has discovered with rates that range between 5 percent and 10 per cent on-land and offshore between 15 and 20 per cent, when the global standard is often over 40 per cent.

“There is, and that is one of the beauties that we have of the seismic. We have got really good resolution on it, there are some big faults but that structure overall, it’s kind of the same, again if you look at Penal/Barrackpore it is split into, call it seven different fields, but it is still all in that same horizon, in that same geology structure. Royston may end up being that way where it is five or six different fields but where it is overall the oil we have encountered both in the overthrust and in the intermediate sheet are just fantastic, its beautiful low 38 Api oil, there is a huge development play on it, when I say hundreds of millions of barrels, that’s oil in place so whether you want to put a 5 or 10 or 20 percent recovery factor on it, it kind of gives you a recovery factor.” Baay told BG.

Baay said when Touchstone looked at the numbers it is easy to see that the Royston pool at its peak, sometime in the next couple of years could produce between 10 to 12 thousand barrels of oil per day.

With prices strong Baay hopes by the end of year to start development drilling at Royston and have at least three wells on production by the end of this year and then start the really aggressive drilling programme by 2023 and sometime in 2024 reach the peak rate of 10 to 12 thousand barrels of oil per day.

Interested in upcoming

bid rounds

“Yes for sure and there are some interesting acreage coming up, we believe in that onshore bid round, we think anyway, and we will be pursuing them.” Bay told BG.

He was asked if he thought the trend was more gas prone or if there was significant oil to be found.

Baay said: “I think it is, as we found out with our latest discovery at Royston, it is oil and beautiful light oil. I think it is really going to depend on where you are in the trend, in the Herrera trend, and the depth of the wells so, I think in what we are seeing right now on the acreage that is coming up for bid, we will see it being more oil than natural gas.”