Venezuela signs energy accord with Trinidad and Tobago

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

Curtis Williams
OGJ Correspondent

LOS ANGELES and PORT OF SPAIN, Aug. 19 -- Venezuela and neighboring Trinidad and Tobago signed a unitization agreement that will enable both countries to develop the Loran-Manatee natural gas fields along their shared maritime border.

“For Venezuela it signifies we will have available gas volumes that we have on our side of the Deltana Platform, to continue sending gas to the Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho gas complex and eventually for our projects to export gas,” said Venezuela’s Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez.

“This is a start, and we are going to be looking towards other areas where accords can be made,” said Trinidad and Tobago Energy Minister Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, who added, “Our experience with exploration lately has not been as fruitful as in previous years.”

Ahead of her arrival in Venezuela, Seepersad-Bachan said the cross-border field, estimated to hold 10 tcf of gas, has been under discussion for almost 20 years.

Venezuela’s share of the unitized field will be 73.06% while Trinidad and Tobago’s take will be 26.94%.

“It’s a big accomplishment,” Seepersad-Bachan said. “I mean it’s going to be the first of its kind [involving] Trinidad and Tobago, and I think in this hemisphere as well, where you would have a cross-border field.”

Loran field lies on Block 2 of the Plataforma Deltana. Petroleos de Venezuela SA has a 61% stake in the block and Chevron Corp. has 39%. ConocoPhillips was formerly a participant in the project as well, but it sold its stake to PDVSA last year. Chevron operates the Manatee prospect on Block 6(d) in Trinidad and Tobago—in partnership with BG Group.

Seepersad-Bachan said a market for the gas has not yet been determined, but indicated at least part of the gas should go to Trinidad and Tobago since the island is closer to the fields than is any developed area of Venezuela. In addition Trinidad and Tobago already has necessary infrastructure and is a major exporter of LNG through its Atlantic LNG facilities.

The two countries also are expected to negotiate similar agreements for the Dorado-Kapot and Cocuina Manakin fields, also on the shared maritime border.

Trinidad and Tobago’s former Prime Minister Patrick Manning signed the framework agreement on the unitization of oil and gas resources between the countries with Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez in March 2007.

Earlier this week, Seepersad-Bachan said Trinidad and Tobago has extended the closing date to Sept. 8 for bids on seven offshore blocks due to requests from oil and gas companies (OGJ Online, Aug. 16, 2010).

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.



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