Thursday 2 July, 2020

Ramnarine: T&T must become logistics hub for Guyana

Former energy minister Kevin Ramnarine said the future of Trinidad and Tobago’s economy depends on its ability to provide port and logistics services for Guyana’s booming oil industry.

Ramnarine and others were speaking at a post-Budget session at the University of the West Indies hosted by the Greater Tunapuna Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the San Juan Business Chamber, and Arima Business Chamber to discuss measures proposed by Finance Minister Colm Imbert in Monday’s national budget presentation.

(Photo: Economist Dr Roger Hosein, former minister in the ministry of finance Mariano Browne, former energy minister Kevin Ramnarine, Caroni Central MP Bhoendradath Tewarie, Elson James, CEO JMMB Express Finance, and GTCIC President Vivek Charran discuss budget concerns.)

What I didn’t see mentioned in this budget was, how are we going to strategically position our country to play a role in Guyana?"

"All of a sudden you have a country which is poised to become the ‘Abu Dhabi of the Caribbean’. Located a day-and-a-half's sailing from Guyana is Trinidad and Tobago, where we have natural deepwater harbours, port infrastructure and so on.

“Of course, they don’t have that because they have a problem with siltation because of their river systems etc., so we should be positioning this economy to be a port and logistics supply base for Guyana,” he said.

“We were supposed to have a second phase of the Galeota Port…we need to expand the Galeota Port if we are to service Guyana. I think strategically positioning this country to service Guyana and Suriname is critical for diversification,” he said.


Gas production ‘standing still’

Ramnarine also referred to the country’s natural gas production, which he said has fallen slightly short of forecasted figures.

“(Government) said that in 2018 the country would realise 3.8 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of gas per day, we realised 3.6 billion.”

“(They) said in 2019 we would realise 3.94 Bcf of gas per day; for the first half of this year, we are averaging 3.66 Bcf…for us to get to the Minister’s revised forecast of 3.8, we would have to produce 4 Bcf of gas per day for the next five months.”

“So we will get the 2019 gas production figure wrong and now for 2020, they forecasted 4.05 Bcf of gas per day. My forecast which I think tends to be closer to what actually happens, is somewhere closer to 3.5 or 3.6 Bcf,” he said.

“Essentially, as far as gas production is concerned, we are standing still at about 3.5 to 3.6 Bcf of gas per day.

“Our peak production was in 2010 with 4.3 Bcf per day…the conclusion is that we probably may never get back to the peak, so we have to look for new sources, we can’t depend on the energy sector.”

“One of the main reasons that we had that 1.9 (percent of GDP) in 2018 and got to -0.2 (percent of GDP) is also that we’ve had a 27 percent reduction or fall in oil production in the last four years.

“I saw the Minister referring to a decline in oil production but it’s stabilising now - that is as if you fell from the 26th floor of a building, hit the ground, and went back up two storeys.”

“Production is heading in the wrong direction for both oil and gas and prices, as we all know the world is in the midst of an unprecedented (shale) boom driven the US, so prices will remain low for quite a while,” he said.

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