Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 7th 2017 Contents A18 commentary
guardian.co.tt Tuesday, March 7, 2017
EVIDENCE FOR HIGH HEELS
Philosophers say that our
impression of our sur-
roundings at any moment
in time is heavily influenced by
our inner feelings.
If so, I must have been feeling
very contented last week because
it seemed to me that the country
had a good Carnival one.
There were at least five soca
tunes I enjoyed this year. That's
an increase of 500 per cent from
The best calypso of the year, I
Carmona, was not heard enough
but the goodly gentleman again
courted controversy of his own
Pan came good with lots of
young players but crowds at the
pan events seemed familiar. I am
afraid it's the same old people
year after year.
The most common comment
one heard on the Drag was: "Aye
aye, you still alive!"
Apart from the Dimache Gras
debacle, the NCC did a good job.
Their events were well organised.
The atmosphere was friendly,
clean and refreshing. I thought
there was a lot of assistance avail-
able to the public, especially from
the lady ushers who were won-
The policeman who frisked
me at a gate actually made a joke
while doing so.
Most of these events were at-
tended by a middle aged crowd so
there was much less of the usual
pushing and shoving nonsense.
It was pleasant to know that
you could go to a public event in
T&T, apart from Test cricket, and
feel at ease.
Work ethos stems from the top.
Mr De Silva and his team must be
Crime took its customary vaca-
tion during Carnival week. Police
were everywhere doing their usu-
al efficient Carnival job.
The police reported an 11 per
cent reduction in serious crimes
this year compared to last year,
with not a single reported inci-
dent of a sexual offence against a
Isn't it time we see some arti-
cles in the press about how Carni-
val duty affects police officers? I
mean to say, everybody else in the
country is getting on, drinking,
wining, shouting and laughing
and they have to remain calm,
cool and collected whilst putting
in what must be a tiresome shift.
How many hours do they work
by the way? Do they get overtime?
Why don't we know these things?
Along the same lines, what
about some articles on the nurs-
es and doctors and firemen and
women on call at the public insti-
Babies don't stop birthing and
nursing. Emergencies continue.
People will take advantage of the
dry season and absent neigh-
bours, to set fires to the empty
piece of land up the hill where
they intend to plant a garden or
build a shack. How does being on
call affect family life during the
two days of Carnival?
What do the children of po-
lice officers, firemen, doctors
and nurses think of their parents
having to be on call during these
This is turning into a plea for
more and different kind of report-
ing from the press. Something
other than repeated columns
about what is wrong with Car-
nival and how much it costs? All
written with no evidence except
a study done in 1998 (1998!) and
personal opinions some of which
are acceptable---but year after
year? By the same commentators?
Or the many hilarious Carnival
court cases that are repeated ad
nauseaum? Or boring pictures of
the beauty of female masquerad-
ers in skimpy costumes and how
the women compare with Brazil-
ians or Las Vegas showgirls?
Perhaps the most fascinating
thing about these vedettes is
the new custom of wearing high
heels. Do they really keep them
on once the prance over the Sa-
vannah stage is over? Talk about
narcissistic personality! One
sight of them is enough to give Mr
Trump a run for his money.
Can we not start seeing pic-
tures of ordinary Trinidadians at
work? What about those people
selling corn soup, nuts, pelau,
souse, fried chicken a la Trini-
dade, beer? Who are they? Where
do they come from? What do they
do after Carnival? Did they make
money? Are masqueraders going
back to buying food and drinks
from them? Is the all-inclusive on
the back foot? I hope so.
Leaving the band to buy some-
thing from the sidewalk vendor
was an integral part of the Carni-
val experience. It gave you a mo-
mentary rest from the jamming
and noise, a chance to refresh and
look on at the mas as well as enjoy
the old talk from the vendor and
his or her friends.
Talking about beer, why was
one booth selling Carib at $15
a bottle whilst a hundred yards
away the price was $10? And did
the smartman who advertised his
beer at $9 a bottle and when you
went up to buy only to find that it
was really $9.99 and there was no
one cent change available, make
That too is part of the Carnival
There was common agreement
that band sizes were generally
Economics and immigration is-
sues were the usual explanations.
What about the scarcity of
spectators at the Savannah and
on Ariapita Avenue on Tuesday?
What's the reason for this? I think
spectatorship has been decreasing
over the last ten years.
Some years ago I drove to
Maracas on a Monday and was
amazed at the size of the crowd.
So how many people really par-
ticipate in Carnival Monday and
Are entrance and departure
figures kept at City Gate for these
Finally wouldn't it be fascinat-
ing to see a breakdown of bands
by skin colour, something like
what CLR James did for cricket in
Trinidad, in his classic, Beyond
a Boundary? Carnival, the great
STILL THE KING OF THE WORLD
The BP statistical review of
world energy tells us that of the
three fossil fuels (oil, coal and
natural gas), oil remains king.
The world gets 33 per cent of its
energy from oil, 29 per cent from
coal and 24 per cent from natural
The three collectively account
for 86 per cent of global energy
consumption and remain the ba-
sis of modern civilisation.
Many "experts" like to forecast
the oil price. No one has ever
been totally successful at doing
that. There are simply too many
variables to consider and infor-
mation is never perfect.
There is supply, demand, ge-
opolitics, market sentiment,
weather and the strength of the
In the last three years, the oil
price has been on a roller coast-
er. On July 30, 2014, the price of
West Texas Intermediate (WTI)
crude was US$104.29 per barrel.
The next day it fell below
US$100. A month later, the
world's major reference crude
Brent North Sea followed and
slipped below US$100 per barrel.
Both WTI and Brent then went
into free fall mode until they hit
the mid to high twenties in Feb-
ruary 2016. They have since re-
covered but are nowhere close to
what obtained in mid-2014.
There are some, like Saudi
Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, who
argue that oil will never return
to over US$100 per barrel. I have
learned to never say never. The
ups and downs (more downs)
of the oil price in the last two-
plus years have impacted on this
When oil prices fall there is
also a fall in LNG prices in places
where we sell LNG.
On the supply side, the world
is not running out of oil and the
"peak oil theory" has been rub-
bished. In the last 15 years, there
have been discoveries of massive
oilfields in Brazil's deepwater and
huge discoveries of natural gas in
Turkmenistan and in East Africa.
In the same period, American
oil men led by the late George
Mitchell (the Father of Fracking)
have unlocked vast stores of oil
and natural gas that had been
hitherto locked in shale rock.
In reaction to the shale revo-
lution, Saudi Arabia refused to
cut production in a strategy to
maintain its market share and kill
off the shale oil industry of the
Admittedly, some shale oil
companies filed for bankruptcy
but overall the US shale industry
They survived by becoming
more efficient and lowering the
breakeven cost of producing a
barrel of shale oil.
In 2015 one leading US shale oil
company told me that they could
have survived with oil at US$30
per barrel and still make a ten per
cent rate of return.
This is the genius of American
capitalism---the ability to evolve
Interestingly, around the time
the price of oil started to col-
lapse, ISIS was wreaking havoc
in Syria and Iraq and there was
tension in the Black Sea related
to Russia's annexation of the
One would have thought that
increasing instability in the mid-
dle east and geopolitical tension
involving Russia would have
caused the oil price to increase.
What happened was the reverse--
prices continued to fall.
A major reason for that was the
supply side of the market.
In 2010, the United States pro-
duced a modest 7.6 million bar-
rels of oil and other liquids.
By 2015 that number had risen
68 per cent to 12.7 million bar-
rels of oil and other liquids. That
massive increase in a five-year
period was almost totally due to
shale oil production from places
like North Dakota.
Last November, the Saudi's and
OPEC blinked and announced
they would cut 1.2 million barrels
per day from their output.
That signalled that the shale
producers of the USA had won
the war of attrition.
The falling price of the last two
years saw drilling rig related ac-
tivity fall in the United States.
Recently with the oil price back
in the fifties, the intrepid shale
oil producers have started to in-
crease investment and rig count
The bottom line is as oil pric-
es recover into the mid 50's US
shale oil production will recover
and this will again over supply
The good news (for those
countries that like high oil pric-
es) is demand is linear and will
continue to increase as long as
the world population continues
to increase and more and more
people in India and China move
into the middle class.
In 2015 and 2016, oil sup-
ply was ahead of demand. The
results were lower prices and
build-up of inventory. In the
first quarter of 2017 the situation
seems to be re balancing.
According to PIRA, in the first
quarter of 2017, the world will
demand 98.1 million barrels of oil
per day while supply will be 97.9
million barrels per day.
It is expected that global de-
mand for oil will tip into the 100
million mark in the third quarter
of this year.
There is however a big inven-
tory of over three billion barrels
of oil that has to be gradually
In the short and medium term,
demand for oil will continue to
In the long term, we can think
of the impact of the mass com-
mercialisation of the electric car
which may cause demand for oil
For now, at least, oil remains
king of the world.
Kevin Ramnarine is a former
Minister of Energy of Trinidad
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