Trinidad gets bad news on natural gas project

(Trinidad Guardian) Two days be­fore Fi­nance Min­is­ter Colm Im­bert pre­pares to present his 2019 mid-term bud­get re­view, comes news that BPTT will not have enough nat­ur­al gas to sup­ply At­lantic LNG’s Train One and the plant may have to close down for at least two years.

“Re­cent dis­ap­point­ing re­sults from our in­fill drilling pro­grammes have had a ma­te­r­i­al im­pact on our fore­cast­ed pro­duc­tion, es­pe­cial­ly in 2020 and 2021. This means there are chal­lenges to our sup­ply of gas to Train 1 af­ter 2019. BP along with At­lantic and its share­hold­ers are work­ing through op­tions for the fu­ture of the train,” BPTT said in re­sponse to ques­tions from the me­dia.

In­fill drilling is used to in­crease pro­duc­tion in a field that is al­ready op­er­at­ing.

This po­ten­tial­ly means a loss of hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in gov­ern­ment rev­enue and could put any eco­nom­ic re­cov­ery at risk, since Im­bert has con­sis­tent­ly said he ex­pects in­creased nat­ur­al gas pro­duc­tion to dri­ve eco­nom­ic growth. It will al­so cause an abrupt end to the Gov­ern­ment’s plan to in­crease nat­ur­al gas pro­duc­tion.

The an­nounce­ment sent shock­waves through­out the en­er­gy sec­tor yes­ter­day, with sev­er­al lead­ers in the sec­tor call­ing it a ma­jor dent in con­fi­dence and a shock to the sec­tor.

By a Guardian Me­dia cal­cu­la­tion, this will mean a 20 per cent drop in BPTT pro­duc­tion and a 12 per cent de­cline in the coun­try’s nat­ur­al gas pro­duc­tion. It is al­so like­ly to lead to a fall in the crude oil out­put due to less con­den­sate from the coun­try’s third largest oil pro­duc­er and re­duce At­lantic LNG’s pro­duc­tion to less than 70 per cent of its ca­pac­i­ty.

All this spells a loss of rev­enue to Gov­ern­ment in tax­es from the pro­duc­tion of oil and gas and the ex­port of LNG. It will al­so hurt TTNGL, as Pheonix Park Gas Proces­sors will have few­er liq­uids to process due to a re­duc­tion in the vol­ume of gas avail­able for pro­cess­ing. It is al­so like­ly to fur­ther dam­age Trinidad and To­ba­go’s con­fi­dence in the down­stream sec­tor, which has suf­fered from nat­ur­al gas cur­tail­ment and was re­cent­ly see­ing some in­crease in pro­duc­tion.

Yes­ter­day, as the news made its way in­to the pub­lic do­main, the Gov­ern­ment was un­will­ing to talk about the is­sue, with Colm Im­bert point­ing to En­er­gy Min­is­ter Franklin Khan for a re­sponse.

Khan said, “This is a share­hold­er is­sue. The Gov­ern­ment will have more to say but at this time this is a share­hold­er is­sue.”

Re­mind­ed that the Gov­ern­ment is a share­hold­er of Train One due to the Na­tion­al Gas Com­pa­ny’s own­er­ship of 11 per cent of Train 1, Khan re­peat­ed his po­si­tion that he will not com­ment on the mat­ter out­side of the fact that it was a share­hold­er mat­ter.

BPTT said there are chal­lenges to their sup­ply of gas to Train 1 af­ter 2019.

BPTT re­gion­al pres­i­dent Claire Fitz­patrick said, “De­spite BPTT’s re­cent ex­plo­ration suc­cess­es, such as Sa­van­nah and Macadamia and on­go­ing suc­cess in the de­vel­op­ment of the An­gelin field, these re­cent drilling re­sults re­mind us that there is in­her­ent un­cer­tain­ty in the sub­sur­face.”

She added: “This is the na­ture of our busi­ness and we will con­tin­ue to lever­age the lat­est tech­nol­o­gy to find and de­vel­op re­sources. We re­main com­mit­ted to the de­vel­op­ment of our acreage in the Colum­bus Basin and will con­tin­ue to progress the An­gelin, Cas­sia Com­pres­sion and Mat­a­pal Projects as planned.”

BPTT added while the com­pa­ny, along with At­lantic LNG and its share­hold­ers, are work­ing through op­tions for the fu­ture of the train, the oth­er three trains re­main un­af­fect­ed.

The com­pa­ny ex­pects to con­tin­ue with their plans for ex­plo­ration, will work pro­grammes in 2019 and they not­ed that there is no im­pact to sanc­tioned projects which in­clude An­gelin, Cas­sia Com­pres­sion and Mat­a­pal.

Train 1 be­gan com­mer­cial op­er­a­tion on March 13, 1999, be­ing the first LNG fa­cil­i­ty to op­er­ate in the At­lantic Basin and the sec­ond in the West­ern Hemi­sphere. The first ship­ment of LNG left Trinidad and To­ba­go on May 1, 1999, bound for Boston, Mass­a­chu­setts.

BPTT is the coun­try’s largest nat­ur­al gas pro­duc­er, ac­count­ing for more than 50 per cent of the to­tal sup­ply. It is al­so the largest sup­pli­er to Train 1, pro­vid­ing close to 400 mil­lion stan­dard cu­bic feet of gas per day to the plant.

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