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Energy expert: Some benefits from gas deal

Published: 
Saturday, August 25, 2018

The opportunity to bring natural gas from Venezuela brings with it “potential benefits” to T&T, says energy consultant Tony Paul.

“This would be providing gas for plants that are currently under-supplied, plants that are paid off already and are potentially very profitable. It also brings competition to the suppliers BP and Shell. Therefore, it keeps the economy going and brings revenue to the country. It keeps people employed,” he told the Guardian Media.

Today, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley will visit Caracas, Venezuela for the signing of the terms of the development of a deal to obtain gas from the Venezuelan Dragon Gas Field through an arrangement between National Gas Company (NGC), PDVSA and Shell.

T&T and Venezuela have been locked in discussions to develop gas in the Loran/Manatee fields that straddle the countries’ maritime borders for over a year.

The Loran/Manatee field has an estimated 10.25 trillion cubic feet of gas of which roughly 74 per cent belongs to Venezuela with 26 per cent belonging to T&T.

Shell is a multinational, oil and gas company and Paul is questioning Shell’s role in the deal.

“My concern is what, if any, role Shell will have. It started off being a Government-to-Government agreement, the Government of Venezuela bringing gas to T&T and suddenly Shell got involved. I do not see the need for Shell in the deal. This is not something that the NGC cannot do, it is to build a pipeline and bring gas to shore.”

He cited statistics from Poten & Partners, a New York City-headquartered company that provides consulting and project development services related to the energy and transportation sectors for the Ministry of Energy.

“The Government is on record as saying that Shell and BG have for years been short-changing us. Look at the Government’s Spotlight on Energy Conference that was held earlier this year, Poten & Partners highlighted sections of that report, where they indicated that Shell and BP together avoided taxes to the order of US$6.5 billion per year for four years, 2010 to 2014.

“Since then, it has been in the order of US$ 1 billion a year in avoiding taxes. Why would you want to give Shell any more money?”

He questioned the “secrecy” in which the deal with Venezuela is being signed. RJL

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