Thursday 3 December, 2020

Lee: Energy sector ‘unattractive’ to foreign investors

Foreign investors are reluctant to back Trinidad and Tobago’s energy sector.

That’s according to Chairman of the United National Congress (UNC) David Lee, who says the local energy sector is unattractive – and Government is to blame.

This, he said, has been made clear by the failure of recent bid rounds.

He noted that two joint bidders fell short of requirements set out by the Energy Ministry, indicating an “absence of innovation, proactive action as well as due diligence”.

The UNC Chairman said the energy sector is now on the verge of collapse when compared to its “robust performance” in previous years. 

Lee questioned why there was only a single consortium bid for three blocks as opposed to several individual companies. He further questioned why major companies with years of experience and of operation in T&T’s energy sector failed to meet basic requirements.

He blamed Government for the “shameful” development.

“The fact is this Government has failed to create the incentives, policies and programs which would inspire, motivate as well as encourage foreign companies to invest their operations into our sector.”

“The demise of our energy sector by this government's incompetence was quite evident when only last month we saw this country lose out on the opportunity to create hundreds of jobs when BHP opted to build its platform for the Ruby project outside of Trinidad and Tobago,” Lee continued. 

He added that the failed bid rounds is a clear message to Government by these large experienced companies that they are no longer willing to put their full resources into the energy sector unless proper attractive policies are created.

Further, Lee is of the view that this could suggest possible failure in the future if Government undertakes its committed deepwater bid later on.

The UNC Chairman said it was detrimental to T&T’s prosperity that while Guyana emerges as the "Energy Capital of the Caribbean", Government’s “failed promises and inaction” have caused the country’s once-vibrant energy revenue earning stream to slip away.

He accused the People’s National Movement (PNM) administration of inaction on treating with the stability and viability of the energy sector.

“All we have seen is a constant hemorrhage of economic activity, productivity as well as absence of any significant investment within the energy sector under the Rowley led Government,” he said.

He questioned when manifesto promises on monetising the discovery of deepwater natural gas reserves

Lee chastised Government, saying that it needed to end its “lazy approach” and work to ensure T&T’s energy sector is competitive once more given the rise of Guyana’s energy sector.

“Had this government been more rationale in its approach and left our refinery operating, it would have been significantly productive given the millions of barrels of oil being found in Guyana coupled with their need to utilise refining operations.”

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