Trump's ‘America First’ policy will help Trinidad and Tobago, official says

US President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy can assist Trinidad and Tobago in its efforts to become a regional energy hub. That is according to Wendell Motley who heads the Trinidad and Tobago government Energy Task Force, established in part, to help realize the island’s move to be a conduit for energy products in the greater Caribbean.

Motley, who is a former finance minister and Wall Street banker, said the US inward looking policy could drive greater corporation among south-south energy producing countries including Mexico and Venezuela to work more closely together, which would then benefit the Caribbean island.

Trinidad and Tobago has already managed with less than 1% of the world’s reserves to become the largest exporter of methanol in the world and the largest exporter of ammonia to the US, and its Atlantic LNG plant is a major exporter of LNG.

Motley said the plan was to work with other regional countries including Venezuela and Guyana to add value to their energy and then export it globally. He however warned that Trinidad and Tobago cannot see itself as a colonial power seeking to take people’s oil and gas with nothing in return.

Trinidad and Tobago’s National Gas Co. has been appointed as the island’s lead agency in the effort, and its Chairman Jerry Brooks told OGJ that the energy hub concept is Trinidad and Tobago using its advantage of more than 100 years in oil and 40 years in gas, as well as its location and expertise, to bring value to regional payers who don’t have the same expertise and infrastructure.

He noted that the country has more than 1,000 km of pipelines, a gas efficiency of more than 99% with a safe record. It also has expertise in engineering, drilling, geosciences, and platform construction. In that respect it is already working with Guyana on its tax structure, regulatory framework, port facilities, and other ancillary services as the country becomes an energy producer following ExxonMobil’s Liza discovery.

Brooks said this move will put idle capacity to work, increase remittances, and increase streams of cash flow to the island. The NGC chairman also said Trinidad and Tobago will not ignore the need to develop its own energy including deepwater gas, which he said needed to flow at 800 MMscfd to be commercial.

The idea Brooks said was to go further downstream. “As a country we have an obligation to look at areas further downstream. So there is the opportunity to go further downstream from methanol, and part of our allocation of gas in the next period has to be how do we carve out a tranche of gas that will facilitate natural gas-based development so we have to look at that next generation of development.”

He said the deal to import gas from Venezuela was an example of how this can work with Trinidad and Tobago buying gas from its neighbor and having the capacity to immediately put it into its processing plants and produce value added products.

Brooks said during the next phase of natural gas allocation, the Caribbean island will be approving projects that go further downstream including downstream of methanol and aluminum.

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