Sunday 19 May, 2019

Imbert slams 'drama' over bpTT Train 1 announcement

The announcement by bpTT that it may not be able to guarantee a continued gas supply for Train 1 of the Atlantic LNG plant owing to disappointing results from its infill drilling programmes is no cause for panic.

Taking issue with what he labelled as "alarmist" newspaper articles following the announcement by the energy giant over the weekend, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said it's only two wells with less than satisfactory results which are infill wells in existing gas fields.

Of the two wells identified, only one is expected to be unproductive.

He explained that unlike exploration wells, infill wells are normally brought into production almost immediately.

"I am advised that one of these infill wells will go into production shortly, although with lower volumes than anticipated, leaving just one unproductive well. All this drama over one unproductive well is totally unnecessary!" he said.

He said gas production is still expected to average 3.8 bcf per day in 2018, while just three months ago, gas production almost reached 4.0 bcf per day, the highest production since March 2015.

Imbert took "naysayers" to task, saying that they were allergic to good news. 

"It is noteworthy that when BHP Billiton announced the discovery of a significant gas find in 2018, and another encouraging gas find as recently as April 2019, and the company made it clear that it intended to make a huge financial investment in Trinidad and Tobago, we didn't hear one peep out of the naysayers.

Clearly, they are allergic to good news," Imbert quipped.

The Finance Minister said the unwarranted negativity that is evident in these publications follows a pattern that is endemic in some quarters. 

Meanwhile, oil production is projected to stabilise in 2019 and trend steadily upwards from the current 60,000 barrels per day in 2019 to over 80,000 barrels per day by 2023.

Imbert said the projected expansion is due in part to the performance of the Heritage Petroleum, which has begun to ramp up its exploration and production activities, as well as the planned activities of other local oil producers

He revealed that barring unforeseen circumstances, the resumption of refining operations at Point-a-Pierre could take place by December 2019, as a number of strong proposals for the reopening of the refinery are expected.

Further, the Caribbean Gas Chemical Methanol to Dimethyl Ether Plant is expected to come on stream later this year.

The Minister said Government is ensuring that natural gas production will continue to be a major driver of economic growth.

He noted that natural gas production increased in 2018 to an average of 3.63 billion standard cubic feet per day, an 8 percent increase over the 2017 average of 3.36 bcf per day.

Further, gas production continues to increase and is expected to reach an average of 3.8 bcf per day in 2019. Indeed, production is already averaging 3.81 bcf per day in the first quarter of 2019.

"The recovery of our economy in the face of a global slowdown was no doubt due to the disciplined fiscal strategy embedded in our economic transformation agenda.

With the revival of growth now established and projected to stabilise around 2.0 percent annually by 2021, we are strengthening other supporting policies, strategies and reforms to ensure that growth over the long-term would be sustainable, bringing lasting employment and greater equality of incomes and opportunities," the Minister said.

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