Caracas, Trinidad reach border fields agreement

Trinidad and Tobago has approved a framework agreement for the unitization of hydrocarbon reserves in offshore fields bordering the Caribbean twin-island nation and Venezuela.

Mar 5th, 2007

Curtis Williams
OGJ Correspondent

PORT OF SPAIN, Mar.5 -- Trinidad and Tobago has approved a framework agreement for the unitization of hydrocarbon reserves in offshore fields bordering the Caribbean twin-island nation and Venezuela. It is the first such cross-border initiative in the Americas and one of only eight worldwide.

After 4 years of negotiations, there has been agreement at the technical level for the exploitation of reserves in the offshore Plataforma Deltana area, said Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Energy Lenny Saith.

Saith said the first field to be jointly produced would be Loran-Manatee, which contains 10 tcf of gas. It has been agreed that in Loran-Manatee, Venezuela owns 7.3 tcf, while 2.7 tcf is on the Trinidad side of the boarder.

Chevron Corp. is the operator of Loran, while it partners with BG Group in Manatee field.

The treaty focuses on general provisions, exploitation of cross-border hydrocarbon resources, and establishment of a committee for implementing the treaty, the applicable law, and final provisions.

The treaty provides for determination and allocation of the reserves volumes, the way in which costs and benefits from the unitization will be distributed, and the construction, operation, and use of installations related to the project.

The agreement also provides for construction of a cross-border pipeline.

Each state will continue to exercise civil, administrative, and criminal jurisdiction over the various areas that fall within the treaty.

Parties will settle disputes by negotiation through the respective steering teams and a ministerial committee from each country, e.g., the ministerial teams will decide what the states will do with the gas reserves.

Although the agreement will have indefinite life, either party may terminate it.

Saith said no decision has been made as to where Manatee gas will go, but Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela will exploit the reserves "as partners" and make whatever decisions were in the best interest of each country.

It is expected that the treaty will be signed in Caracas later this month when Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is scheduled to hold energy talks with Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning.

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