Young: Trinidad and Tobago’s gas deals are firm whoever wins US, Venezuela elections

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Energy Minister Stuart Young. – File photo by Ayanna Kinsale

ENERGY Minister Stuart Young said on June 24 Trinidad and Tobago’s proposed gas deals with Venezuela will be unaffected by the results of upcoming elections in Venezuela and the US.

He was replying to a motion on the adjournment of the Senate raised by Opposition Senator Wade Mark calling for a status report on the Dragon gas field project, in which TT will access gas from the Dragon field in Venezuela. Mark alleged uncertainty surrounding the deal and  indecision by Shell on investing in the project.

Young, in reply, was very upbeat on the prospects of deals for the Dragon, Manakin-Coquina and Manatee gas fields.

The Manakin-Coquina field straddles Venezuelan and TT waters, and the Manatee field is the TT portion of the former cross-border Loran-Manatee field.

The Manakin-Coquina field has about one trillion cubic feet (tcf) of proven reserves, while Manateee has an estimated 2.7 tcf.

Young said while TT was a mature province – with much hydrocarbon already extracted – it was well respected, such as by Australian energy giant Woodside, which had recently named its latest liquefied natural gas (LNG)-carrying ship in honour of TT by dubbing it The Scarlet Ibis.

“I have engaged the CEO, Miss Meg O’Neil, from Woodside on a number of occasions and they are very familiar with where TT is. So we are pursuing deep water (gas).

“Manatee: I can assure the population, they can take a bet. In the coming days there will be big news announced with the Manatee gas field with Shell.”

Young said TT had got the go-ahead from the Manakin-Coquina field, referring to a licence for TT from the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), (which exempts this deal from US sanctions on Venezuela imposed over concerns about the fairness of elections held under the regime of President Nicolas Maduro).

Saying a “ghostwriter” in a local newspaper had falsely claimed bp had pulled out of the Manakin-Coquina deal, Young said officials from the government, National Gas Company (NGC) and bp will visit Venezuela on July 1 pursuant to the deal.

Young said the population must look carefully at those who wish the worst for TT, alluding to the Opposition.

On the Dragon deal, he said TT had an OFAC licence, an amended OFAC licence to facilitate payments, and a 30-year licence from the Venezuelan government.

“So regardless of what happens, there are 30 years to develop, 30 years for it to happen.”

Saying if you call the White House, President Biden would answer and if you call the Miraflores Palace in Venezuela, President Maduro would answer, Young said, “It is an opportune moment to ask the opposition, ‘Where is President Guaido?'”

He was referring to the opposition’s support for Venezuelan opposition politician Juan Guaido.

Young said, “I can tell the population now, without giving away too much, we are not concerned now with the outcome of the elections in either country.

“We have legal documentation that secures us with Venezuela. We have legal documentation that secures us with the US government, despite who may be at the helm.”

He said whenever he and the Prime Minister visit the US, they met representatives from both sides of the House, Democrat and Republican.

“That is how you secure a country’s future,” he said, “Not based on lies.”