Officials hope to cash in on hydrocarbon assets while supporting broad emission-reduction goals

Oil and gas producer Trinidad & Tobago is aiming to strike a balance between extracting value from its hydrocarbon assets and participating fully in the transition to clean energy.
Country officials speaking on this week’s virtual Trinidad & Tobago Energy Conference set out a vision that seeks to involve the countrys oil and gas sector as much as possible in the transition to lower-carbon energy.
As countries and corporations trend to a carbon-neutral world, the reality is that the increase in energy demand from a growing global population, rising incomes and poverty-alleviation measures cannot be met in the medium term by renewable technologies and energy efficiency alone, Trinidads energy minister Stuart Young claimed.
Young said Trinidad wants revenue from its liquefied natural gas production to factor in the shift to low-carbon technologies.
Trinidads own initiatives include support for a planned 112-megawatt solar-power project, backed by Lightsource BP and Shell, and efforts by the countrys National Gas Company to reduce the carbon impact of its operations.
Young added that the ministry is exploring the feasibility of carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects.
There is a lot of opportunity here in [Trinidad & Tobago], as the plants in the gas sector can be transformed, with the right investments, to ensure cleaner and lower-carbon energy, he said.
We will continue to work with the various downstreamers, as there are also exciting opportunities in ammonia, methanol and other commodities.
Prime Minister Keith Rowley offered support for feasibility studies also backed by the Inter-American Development Bank for the development of green hydrogen and ammonia production in Trinidad.
We are aware of our vulnerability as a small-island developing nation and potential for adverse affects on our economy and our people if we fail to take the necessary steps, he told the conference.
But Rowley made it clear that his government is determined to get maximum value from its remaining gas reserves.
We are committed to the development and maximisation of natural resources that will continue to provide the revenue stream which is critical to the well-being of our citizens and also provides a supplementary source of funding for some of the very projects that will help us meet our targets, he said.
Rowley also argued for natural gas as a cleaner fuel for export to neighbouring Caribbean nations and the much bigger markets of the Asia-Pacific region.
Young said a shortfall in oil and gas investments could lead to demand-supply inequity and higher energy prices.
It is crucial that investment in the upstream sector be maintained even during the rapid transition to renewables and other low-carbon alternatives, he said.
Young referred to several ongoing natural gas projects by operators such as BHP, Shell and BP, and signalled that the Port of Spain administration will work with industry to help projects reach sanctioning.
Beyond 2022, there is a bank of upstream gas projects on land and in the shallow- and mid-water areas awaiting sanctioning, he said, pointing to a potential 11 trillion cubic feet of gas ripe for development, including BHPs deep-water Calypso find.
The near-term outlook for the demand for oil and gas and petrochemicals is positive We must bring these resources to market at the earliest opportunity as we prepare for a low-carbon economy, Young said.
Young hinted at a possible breakthrough allowing the development of the Manatee gas field on the maritime border with Venezuela.
Talks with Shell are in “an advanced stage”, he said, with expectations of harnessing another 1.8 Tcf of gas resource.
Young also promised a more vigorous licensing process in Trinidad.
All companies will be requested to provide a work programme and definitive schedule for the maximum exploration and development of licensed and contracted acreage. Acreage not required for exploration or development must be returned to the state, he said.
Acreage will be made available for a relaunched licensing push, including deep-water, onshore and shallow-water bid rounds, he said.
A part of the bid process, I have been reviewing the fiscal terms which would be applicable to future contractual arrangements, he added.
Young said the government is in restructuring discussions with Atlantic LNG stakeholders, seeking to consolidate existing joint ventures into a unitised facility with a common ownership and commercial framework.
A government-appointed team is negotiating a new commercial structure and long-term licence for the proposed facility, he said.
Young said Trinidad is also looking at ways to boost oil production, with carbon dioxide sequestration and reservoir flooding under study in mature areas.
In a bid to attract private investment, Trinidads state-owned Heritage Petroleum Company has mapped out an action plan to optimise exploration and development of its onshore and offshore acreage, he said.
Heritage has issued new land licences to a number of operators and forged a joint-venture agreement with EOG Resources for the development of acreage in south-west Soldado, a mature offshore field in the Gulf of Paria.
Young said Heritage is also reviewing expressions of interest from several parties regarding its Jubilee field, which is seen as a candidate for enhanced oil recovery with CO2 flooding.