Ramnarine: Easing of tight gas supplies in Trinidad and Tobago might take years

Trinidad and Tobago’s Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine is now saying that it could take as long as 2 years before there is any easing in the tight supply-demand relationship of natural gas in the Caribbean twin-island nation.

In an interview with Oil & Gas Journal, Ramnarine explained that the situation is so tight that if there is an unplanned shutdown by any of the upstream producers, it leads to a shortage of gas for the Point Lisas Industrial estate, which houses all of the nation’s petrochemical plants.

He said, “Going forward, we have to continue to do a number of things. BHP is going to be doing Angostura Phase 3, which will bring on more gas, and we expect that from all the infill drilling that BP has in the next 2 years more gas will be made available, and of course we have Juniper.”

Ramnarine added, “We expect Starfish to come on around September. I have to crunch the numbers again but I expect us to be in a positive situation with Starfish coming on with that quantum of gas.”

Starfish, a field discovered by BG Trinidad & Tobago in 1998, is expected to be developed by yearend and bring gas into production.

Ramnarine’s comments follow complaints from Methanex that its global performance was negatively impacted in this year’s first quarter due to gas curtailment and that its Trinidad operations were at 90% of its nameplate capacity.

Trinidad and Tobago is the largest exporter of methanol in the world and the largest exporter of ammonia and urea to the US. The tight gas situation at times also impacts Atlantic LNG, which is the world’s most diversified exporter of LNG.

From 2011 to yearend 2013, the island nation experienced significant gas curtailments as its largest producer BP Trinidad & Tobago performed work on its asset integrity following the Mocondo disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. BPTT also moved away from being the provider of last resort complaining it was not profitable to continue the arrangement. However while the significant maintenance work has come to an end, BP’s development of Savonette field (with reserves of 2.4 tcf) caused a disruption of supply that hurt petrochemical companies.

BPTT stated, “Although the period of intensified maintenance activity has ended, in line with regular business activity, there are, from time to time, normal operating activities that may have short-term impact on production such as rig moves, heavy lifts, or delays on the drilling program. We strive, as far as possible, to work with all stakeholders including the government and downstream, to coordinate these activities to mitigate impact on their operations.”

BPTT said in this year’s first quarter it completed drilling on the Savonette 6 well and also took the Savonette platform offline to facilitate heavy lifting required for the start of drilling of the Savonette 7 well. The platform was brought back on production once drilling started. It added that this was a necessary outage to continue to progress its drilling program and bring gas online. “This period of outage would have had an impact on gas supply,” BPTT told OGJ.

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