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Trinidad and Tobago PM misleading picture on energy sector crisis  

Dear Sir:

The prime minister’s presentation at this year’s Energy Conference hosted by the Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago was nothing short of misleading and an attempt to cover up the real crisis facing our national energy sector.

It was rather ironic that this year’s conference theme is shaping the “Caribbean’s Energy Future” while this present regime has placed our once-booming sector into the most vulnerable position it has ever been in, jeopardizing its successful future.

From day one the Opposition warned the government that the Dragon deal was not stable, guaranteed or secure, therefore it was not surprising to hear about it being on hold due to sanctions. The reality is the Dragon Deal, a project which was aimed at political gimmickry is now dead. Shamefully it has come as a huge blow to an already suffering gas sector as this government has failed to undertake any buffers to pick up the shortfall of natural gas.

Given the track record of untruths and lies by this administration, our citizens, as well as energy stakeholders, will find no comfort in the statements by the prime minister that they have “inked an agreement” with Venezuela to develop the “Manatee” section of the Loran –Manatee field.

If they couldn’t deliver on Dragon Gas, how can we trust them to deliver on Manatee? Based on the modus operandi of this government, it’s only a matter of time before we hear that the Manatee project is no more.

Our population must understand that the lack of investment by up streamers which has led to the decline in production of natural gas as discussed by the prime minister has come as a result of his own administration’s inability to provide effective, sustainable as well as timely fiscal incentives, thereby creating an unattractive environment.

How could up streamers be encouraged to ramp up investment and production when this administration raised taxation against them without any corresponding benefits?

Attempting to give an impression that the government was actually developing the energy sector, it was rather erroneous that the prime minister ventured to speak on Deepwater drilling when this administration has delayed the holding of a Deepwater Bid rounds for the last four and half years while the only shallow water bid round they held in May 2019 failed.

Even more, deceiving and insulting towards energy stakeholders were the prime minister’s boasts about the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (NGC) success in re-negotiating gas prices with up streamers while the down streamers of Point Lisas currently face a crisis with higher prices due to these negotiations, resulting in numerous closures as well as job losses.

Has the prime minister forgotten that only one month ago YARA shut down its operation while on Sunday the chief executive officer of Methanex made it clear that they are pre­pared to shut down the Titan plant rather than sign a bad deal with the NGC?

One of the most disheartening areas of the prime minister’s presentation was the inability to provide any coherent plans on the reopening of the refinery except that it would be done within 12-18 months which represents a change from the timeline the minister of finance announced in September 2019.

Yesterday’s presentation was one of pure fallacy and a dedicated attempt by the prime minister to mask the reality facing our nation.

David Lee

Member of Parliament, Point-a-Pierre

Deputy Political Leader, United National Congress (UNC) and Opposition Chief Whip



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