Energy Minister seeks global gas deals at Algeria summit

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

From left, Azerbaijan’s Minister of Energy Parviz Shahbazov; OPEC Secretary-General Haitham Al-Ghais and Energy Minister Stuart Young, at the 7th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the GECF Member Countries in Algeria. – Photo courtesy Ministry of Energy

Energy Minister Stuart Young says TT’s economic co-operation with other members of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) has been limited except for Venezuela and he expects that to change.

Speaking at the 7th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the GECF Member Countries in Algiers, Algeria on March 2, Young was referring to the 30-year Exploration and Production License for the Dragon Gas field located in Venezuelan territorial waters.

“I wish to take this opportunity to express on behalf of the Government of the Republic of TT our heartfelt gratitude to the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela for their continued support and commitment for co-operation in the energy sector, in particular gas-related transactions. It is our hope and expectation that our continued membership in the forum would lead to tangible economic co-operation with other member states.”

He said as a gas-based economy, TT depended on the monetisation of natural gas for major exports and foreign exchange earnings. Also, the high initial cost of renewable energy was restricting so, even as other countries attempt to transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems, TT will continue to utilise natural gas for sustainable development.

“However, as a demonstration of TT’s commitment to the reduction of carbon emissions, we are pursuing the reduction of methane emissions, elimination of non-emergency flaring, the adoption of carbon capture, utilisation and storage technologies and the inclusion of renewables in our energy mix through projects such as Utility Scale Solar Photovoltaic Power and the development of green hydrogen.”

Young reminded the audience that, at the 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) in Dubai last December, there was a call to move away from the use of fossil fuels “in a just, orderly and equitable manner” to achieve net zero by 2050.

Net zero entails cutting carbon emissions until it is so little that it can be absorbed and stored by nature and other carbon dioxide removal measures, leaving zero emissions in the atmosphere.

It was also proposed that renewable energy capacity be tripled and non-CO2, especially methane, emissions be reduced by 2030.

He described the idea as overly ambitious as it did not take into account the increasing energy needs of the growing global population.

He added that some nations proposed carbon-taxing regimes on fossil fuels and energy products of developing oil and gas economies. But for developing countries, ambitious climate change and decarbonisation strategies was a challenge and, Small Island Developing States and African nations faced debt pressures pursuing energy security. Fossil fuel was their only viable option.

“The amount of cash needed for the energy transition, climate adaptation and disaster relief of developing countries is substantial, with estimates of US$2.4 trillion a year in investment to cap emissions and adapt to the challenges posed by climate change.

“Notwithstanding their pledges the developed countries have not lived up to their commitment. In light of the failure of developed countries to deliver on their financial commitments there have been misplaced suggestions for an ongoing tax on fossil fuel extraction, on global carbon emissions and on financial transaction. These suggestions shift the responsibility from the developed countries and must be resisted.”

He said as of June 2023, 72 countries had net zero targets in their legislation or policy documents as a way of phasing out of fossil fuels. But, he said, the GECF was committed to advancing natural gas as the solution to balance economic and social requirements, and environmental constraints.

“Natural gas will be instrumental in supporting our future scenarios and pathways. With its affordability, reliability and its lower emissions, natural gas will play a formidable role in accelerating our achievement of regional and global energy systems that benefit our citizens and our planet, today and in the future.”