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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley at the Sixth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in Doha, Qata, yesterday.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on Tuesday reinforced this country’s economic dependence on natural gas at the Sixth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in Doha, Qatar.

Despite this, the Prime Minister said the country has plans to transition to lower carbon energy. He pegged that transitional cost at US $2 billion.

“Outside of international financing, revenue from our energy sector and in particular the monetization of natural gas, will be a major input in our transitioning to low carbon economy,” he said.

“The domestic energy sector will continue to drive the economy as we transition to a low carbon economy. However, as a small island state and an oil and gas economy, we recognise our responsibility to transition to a local carbon economy according to a practical timetable driven by our own circumstances.”

The PM said the idea of transitioning from primary energy sources is not a new phenomenon, as “the industrial revolution has seen a shift from coal to crude oil and natural gas.”

“The reality is that oil and gas will continue to play a significant role in meeting global primary energy requirements for the foreseeable future,” Rowley said.

“It is in this scenario that Trinidad and Tobago’s gas industry is positioned.”

The Prime Minister also said just like the rest of the world, T&T has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Pre-COVID-19, the domestic energy sector based on the Government’s strategies was enjoying a major upturn. The pandemic curtailed this momentum by delaying the implementation of new upstream projects,” Rowley noted.

He said that the issues brought on by the pandemic have been managed by the Government in collaboration with the upstream and the recovery is on track and as a consequence, several upstream projects, primarily gas projects, came on stream in 2021 and a number of gas projects are in the pipeline for 2022.

“In the medium to long term, several gas projects are in the appraisal and sanctioning phases. These include deep-water projects with estimated gas reserves of 6.6 trillion cubic feet and the Manatee cross-border field, which adjoins the Venezuelan Loran field,” he said, adding his gratitude to the Venezuelan government for agreeing to independently development of the cross-border fields.

“It is this spirit of co-operation that will serve to strengthen and sustain the GECF as the leading energy organisation in the global gas market,” the PM said.

He said a viable and sustainable petrochemical sector is important to the local economy but it was not without challenges.

“The Government has been having dialogue with companies to ensure a more equitable sharing of LNG revenues. We now have an opportunity to correct this inequality consequent on the pending expiration of LNG licences and plans to restructure the LNG business in Trinidad and Tobago,” he noted.

“It is in situations like this that the value of the membership of Trinidad and Tobago in the GECF takes on added significance. The experience of the forum, which possesses 70 per cent of the world’s proven gas reserves, 44 per cent of its marketed production, 52 per cent of pipeline, and 51 per cent of LNG exports in the world, is formidable and can be of immeasurable benefit to members,” he added.

“However, if we are to maintain our leading position in the global gas market in this changing environment there must be meaningful collaboration and co-operation at all levels. Given what is at stake I am confident that we will coalesce and continue as a cohesive force in this dynamic environment.

“While natural gas is the cleanest of the fossil fuels there is a need to reduce its emissions intensity by the elimination of gas flaring and purging, the wider implementation of leak detection and repair programmes to eliminate methane emissions, and carbon sequestration.”