Trinidad's tight gas supply to ease in early 2012, minister says

Trinidad and Tobago’s petrochemical producers have been assured that the present natural gas shortage will be solved by February 2012. The assurance comes from Kevin Ramnarine, the Caribbean twin-island nation’s energy minister, who said the problem has nothing to do with a reserves shortage.

Speaking at a breakfast meeting of the Energy Chamber in Trinidad, Ramnarine said, “There continues to be a shortage of natural gas to the Point Lisas Industrial Estate. This problem is not due to a lack of reserves. It is a result of poor coordination. In terms of a solution, there is light at the end of the tunnel. We expect that the EOG Toucan platform would commence production in mid-January to February and that this would provide relief to the problem at point Lisas.”

Over the last 6 months, downstream producers have complained bitterly that they were losing out on making additional product because of the gas shortage. The shortfall has been estimated at 100-200 MMcfd.

Ramnarine told Chamber members that National Gas Co. Ltd. (NGC) would start work on its pipeline network to ensure that there is greater flexibility in gas deliveries. The minister said part of the work would lead to BG Group’s operations at Beachfield in Guyayare being connected to NGC’s domestic network. Currently BG’s Beachfield facilities feed exclusively Atlantic LNG’s Point Fortin facilities.

Ramnarine said it was important that NGC build some flexibility into the system because of the tightness of the demand and supply situation. “We must understand that the system of supply and demand for natural gas is tightly optimized and any disruption will now be immediately felt at Point Lisas,” he said.

In the past, the shortfall in gas production was met by BP Trinidad & Tobago (BPTT), but this is no longer the case because of several factors, not the least of which was upgrade to its infrastructure being done to meet new safety standards following the April 2010 Macondo incident in the Gulf of Mexico.

He also revealed that the country could no longer look forward to significant liquids production associated with gas production because of the type of gas being discovered. In the last 6 months, BPTT’s liquids production fell by 8,000 bo/d as it brought on fields that were less rich in associated condensate.

“I will also add that new developments of natural gas have proven led to the discovery of more dry gas and therefore we have a commensurate decline in the production of liquids in Trinidad and Tobago,” the minister said.

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