Minister of Energy and Energy Industries Stuart Young – File photo by Ayanna Kinsale
ENERGY Minister Stuart Young on Wednesday urged the National Gas Company (NGC) to seek new opportunities in renewable energy projects.
But Young also said TT will continue to rely on hydrocarbons for the foreseeable future and will not be dictated to by countries re-opening their own pollution-causing coal mines.
He spoke at the launch of NGC Green at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain, where the NGC’s Compressed Natural Gas division, NGC CNG, was rebranded with expanded duties.
Young said the world was now in many crises, including climate change, which had rendered 2023 one of the hottest years ever.
The Caribbean, including Trinidad and Tobago, has suffered coastal erosion, rising sea levels and changing weather patterns, Young said. The world has seen droughts and unprecedented flooding, the latter even in developed places like New York, Seoul, China and the European Union.
Saying several wars were now affecting energy costs, he said, “Energy security is a conversation in every country.”
Young said the launch of NGC Green showed that necessary action was being taken in how TT manages its energy transition.
“The truth is we are not going to come off of the use of fossil fuel any time soon. That is the reality.”
He said some multinationals had pledged to transition from hydrocarbons but had to retract.
“I don’t think people realise how integrated oil and gas really are in our day-to-day living, and that’s the reality we are facing.”
He said many everyday items, such as computers, phones and spectacles, were made of hydrocarbon (petroleum) derivatives.
“The real evil, in my view, is coal.”
Young said, “When you do the research, TT contributes less than one per cent of the global emissions that are harmful to the environment.
“If we shut off everything in TT – in the energy sector including electricity, our manufacturing sector, our vehicles, everything – it will really not make a significant difference (to climate change).”
Saying TT will act responsibly, Young said the vision was for NGC Green to promote diversification in TT’s energy sector.
He said it was a great first step for the company to take 30 per cent of Project Lara, the Caribbean’s largest solar project.
“I am challenging NGC to look outside of TT as well. We have the ability to invest outside of TT.”
Young said the Government’s stewardship of NGC has been “extremely responsible and progressive”, in contrast to when $14-16 billion in NGC cash was utilised in ways that did not facilitate the NGC’s progress, as he wished the company had that sum today.
“We, the citizens, are depending on hydrocarbons. Look for the opportunities. Look for the new renewable projects.
“What are the new ventures? What are the new concepts?”
He saluted Shell and bpTT as TT’s partners in Project Lara.
Young said much of TT’s future was depending on the NGC.
“Don’t let the outsiders put pressure on us.”
He chided those developed countries that had gotten their wealth by exploiting places like Africa and India.
He said TT would operate responsibly in its energy sector but chided certain powerful countries.
“I can guarantee one thing – as soon as they are in crisis, they play from a different playbook.”
Young said during the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War, developed countries had re-opened their coal mines while having told countries like TT to come off of oil and gas, and during the pandemic, had looked after themselves with their covid19 vaccines.