David Lee accuses Government of ‘seven deadly sins’ in energy sector

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

David Lee –

The UNC strongly defended former Energy minister Kevin Ramnarine and the party’s handling of the energy sector during the People’s Partnership administration at a media briefing on Sunday.

The defence was led by Pointe-a-Pierre Opposition MP David Lee in a presentation titled the Seven Deadly Sins of this Government against the energy sector.

Lee did a comparative analysis of the energy sector under the People’s Partnership as opposed to its handling today.

Earlier this week, the Prime Minister, Energy and Energy Industries Minister Stuart Young and Ramnarine had public exchanges about the state of the industry.

Young had responded to a column Ramnarine wrote titled Facts, Fiction and Freedom of Information in which he spoke about the National Gas Company (NGC) and contractual relationships in 2015.

In that column he added that without incentives provided by the ministry and Government there would be no Juniper, Angelin, Matapal and Cypre projects and the economy would have collapsed.

Dr Rowley defended Young through a post after Young replied to Ramnarine’s column.

Lee began his presentation asking how long TT would allow the Government to say all is well when the country was facing a crisis in the sector.

“Today, we rebuke and renounce the Government’s misleading, deceitful and fraudulent attempt over the past week to tell you that our energy sector is stable and performing when in fact it has reached a fragile state.”

Lee challenged the Government to disprove his statements.

He said despite claims by Young that an energy boom was in TT’s future, it was instead a “tsunami of production declines, the exodus of energy investment and reduced national income if TT continued on this part.”

Lee said the seven deadly sins (metaphorically referring to the seven deadly sins in Christian canon) were driving oil production to the lowest in 60 years; collapsing gas production to a 25 year low; drilling for oil and gas down by 58 per cent from 2015-2024; destroyed ammonia and LNG production; destabilised the downstream sector like no other; decimation of the energy sector employment and GDP and failure of renewable energy.

Lee said Rowley either lost touch with reality or opted for fiction over facts to hide the administration’s nine-year failing in the energy sector.

“Because no metric, no existing energy review or any analysis could prove that he or his team revitalised or saved the energy sector.”

Lee expanded on each sin and said that the Government drove oil production to the lowest in 60 years and from 2015 to now production had been driven down by almost 30,000 barrels of oil.

He said the Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration left oil production at 78,656 barrels per day when it left office in 2015.

“This present Government led by Keith Christopher Rowley as Prime Minister and the Minister of Energy Stuart Young, our production as of November 2023, which is on the website of the Ministry of Energy, and total production is approximately 49,000 barrels per day…

“How could they have saved the energy sector when oil production has fallen below 50,000 barrels for the first time since we became an independent nation.”

Lee also said the Opposition would not allow the narrative that the restructuring of Petrotrin saved TT’s energy sector.

“The shutdown of Petrotrin and the creation of Heritage have single-handedly harmed oil production…,” Lee said.

Lee also called on the Government to clarify what was happening with the Dragon gas deal, closer to the end of his presentation.

He spoke to this following a report of major oil and gas player Shell seeking a long-term licence from the US Government before making a final investment decision in the Dragon gas project.

“One of the most damning failures of this Government’s energy strategy has been its approach of placing all the nation’s energy prospects in this Dragon gas deal and the Maduro/Venezuelan regime.

“Again we in the Opposition clarify we are not against the Dragon deal. We see the value in all gas. It is on that premise – it is simply beyond reason why this Government has ignored gas within our own borders/waters.

“Why place all hope in this Dragon gas deal with Maduro?” Lee said.

Lee said the Opposition urged caution on the issues that still require answers. He said Dragon gas was an opportunity but not a “confirmed, executed development.”

Citing the report, Lee said, “I want the country to understand what that means, when this Government receives licence from the US and then Venezuela, they gave the population an impression all that was needed now was for Shell and the NGC to turn on the tap for gas.”

Lee said in reality, however, there were no infrastructure and no significant mobilisation of gas as yet.

He added that Shell was now seeking permission from its shareholders to make a final decision to get the funding needed to invest in the needed infrastructure to produce gas.

He said the party would say a lot more about that.

The UNC asked if any money was invested on the Dragon Gas deal with the Venezuelan Government.

“We have asked that question and we want answers,” he said.

Lee asked Young if he knew the Dragon gas deal was going to take more than two years why was the country led to believe that the project was going to be executed in the period.

“All we are asking when are we getting first gas from this Dragon gas deal and we understand if there are no geopolitical issues and everything remains calm with the Maduro Government and US Government, at best, it will be 2028 you will be getting any signs of first gas in this Dragon Gas deal.”