Report: Trinidad and Tobago 4th best in world on energy sector accountability

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

TTEITI chairman Gregory Mc Guire,

THE local energy sector is the fourth most transparent in the world, said the State of the Extractive Sectors Report 2023. This was launched by the TT Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (TTEITI) on Monday night at the TT Energy Chamber’s energy conference at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain.

“In June 2023, after being assessed to gauge how well the country implements the EITI Standard, TT attained a score of 89 out of 100 for meeting the Standard requirements.

“That tally was the highest score in Latin America and the Caribbean and fourth highest globally. We will have to live up to this score and keep progressing.”

The report said in TT, the EITI provides a collaborative mechanism and platform for developing and consolidating transparency and accountability in the nation’s oil and gas sectors, the cornerstone of the national economy. “The disclosures in this report is the start of a conversation on how we manage our resource wealth.”

The report was optimistic details in the report will advance dialogue and debate on the country’s extractive sector.

In a list of key takeaways, the report was upbeat about the local energy sector’s earnings and accountability.

“Despite year-on-year decline, Government continues to earn decade high revenue from the oil and gas sector in 2023 amidst global geopolitical tensions.

“Trinidad and Tobago the first country to publish green house gas emissions data in the EITI, with the National Gas Company (NGC) and Touchstone pioneering environmental disclosures.” The report said in the six year period 2016-2022, TT had 1,121 oil spills, of which 73 per cent occurred on land.

“TT now systematically discloses 47 per cent of information required by the EITI Standard, ensuring citizens have more access to energy and mining sector data at source.” A summary of the report said the document gave a snapshot of the major developments in the oil, gas and mining sector.

“The report provides the latest information on revenue Government earned from the sector in 2023 and reconciles company payments and Government receipts for fiscal 2021.” The report also suggests how TT can improve its revenue collection, data management, and audit and assurance systems.

The report said TT has had the EITI for over a decade, as transparency and accountable management of our oil, gas and mining sectors was a continuous imperative. Resources must be effectively managed to benefit all citizens and preserve the environment.

“Our mission is to promote greater transparency and more effective management of extractive sector resources by empowering citizens with relevant information.

“With oil and gas prices currently on an upward trajectory, transparency is even more important especially as it relates to the country’s post covid-19 pandemic recovery.” With revenue from the extractive sector paying for TT’s short, medium and long term plans for diversification, digital transformation, citizen security, and crime prevention, the EITI’s role in providing assurance on energy sector revenue was crucial.

“A critical element of the steering committee’s work focuses on independently verifying the amount the country earns from our oil, gas and mining resources and identifying the reasons for any discrepancies as well as providing recommendations on how the country can improve its revenue collection and audit and assurance systems.” The report promised a continuation of this independent verification and vowed to look at innovating within the EITI framework.

“Our 2024-26 work plan addresses the new EITI Standard requirements aimed at assessing the energy transition, anti-corruption and improved revenue collection.” The report promised to seek an increase in mining sector participation in TTEITI and to advocate to remove legal barriers, whether by including an EITI clause in licences and contracts or the passing of TTEITI legislation.

The report keenly noted the National Gas Company and Touchstone Energy Limited would disclose key data on their emissions and energy use in this report.”

Like the rest of the world, TT was concerned how the energy transition and climate change would shift Government policies, company strategy and citizens’ lives over the short to medium term. “As a net energy exporter and small island state, the country already faces the brunt of climate change impact and any major tremors in the global energy transition policy space will impact our revenue and market share for LNG and petrochemicals.

“Gathering as much data to help clarify how citizens, companies and Government respond to these developments is pivotal.

“And both the NGC and Touchstone have demonstrated leadership in data disclosure.”

The report thanked stakeholders – namely the Government, extractive companies and civil society – in guiding and supporting EITI implementation over the last year.

” I am optimistic that the information provided in this report will advance dialogue and debate on the country’s extractive sector,” wrote TTEITI chairman Gregory Mc Guire, in the report.