Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 20th 2017 Contents APRIL 20 • 2017 guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
VIEW | BG3
BG VIEW ANTHONY WILSON
Chief editor business
Editing and design
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What do Angelin and Galicia
say about the PNM Cabinet?
For the month of April, the two
stories referenced in the head-
line of this commentary have
dominated the news cycle in
T&T, with both of them generat-
ing a great deal of hand-wring-
ing on social media platforms and concerned
letters to the editors of local newspapers.
In my view, both the decision by the Lon-
don-based energy giant BP not to construct the
Angelin platform in T&T and the determina-
tion by the owners of the Super Fast Galicia to
withdraw the vessel from the inter-island cargo
service between Trinidad and Tobago reflect
negatively on the decision-making ability of
the Cabinet of the Republic of T&T.
From the evidence at hand, it can be argued
that the failure by Cabinet to make timely de-
cisions on important but time-sensitive issues
contributed to the unsatisfactory outcomes
of both issues.
Put another way, had the Cabinet heeded the
warning of bpTT's regional president, Nor-
man Christie---that the government needed
to sanction the Angelin development in the
fourth quarter of 2016---T&T would have had
a fighting chance to receive the mandate to
construct the Angelin platform.
That warning was made public in an exclu-
sive interview that Mr Christie did with the
Business Guardian on March 2016 and one
assumes he would have delivered the same
caution to the government's energy officials
and the relevant ministers.
What may not have been obvious to all but
the more discerning readers of that Business
Guardian article is the likelihood that BP linked
the sanctioning of the Angelin development
with the renegotiations of state-owned Na-
tional Gas Company's (NGC) long-term gas
supply contract with BP, which is due to expire
In other words, BP officials (including Mr
Christie) would have told the Government, in
no uncertain terms, that for the energy giant
to proceed with the Angelin development, it
needed a comprehensive gas supply contract
with NGC on terms that are more favourable
than the existing contract.
The Angelin development is crucial to the
medium-term survival of T&T's petrochemical
industries at Point Lisas and the liquefaction
facilities at Point Fortin because the natural gas
produced by Angelin is expected to replace the
output from the Juniper development, which
is forecast to begin declining in 2019 from its
production peak of approximately 590 million
standard cubic feet a day (mmscfd) from five
The fact that the Cabinet was not in a po-
sition to provide the sanction for the Angelin
development in the fourth quarter of 2016---for
whatever reason---automatically meant that
BP simply could not take the chance that the
Oilfields Workers Trade Union (OWTU) and
the poor but militant La Brea community would
do to the construction of the Angelin platform
what they did to the Juniper platform.
And it seems to me that what was done to the
Juniper platform was that the workers at the La
Brea fabrication yard agreed to a compensation
package in order to get their jobs when con-
struction began in the fourth quarter of 2014.
But, by January 2015, those same work-
ers---inspired no doubt by the comrades of
the OWTU---were protesting about the inad-
equacy of the compensation and the fact that
more people from La Brea did not get work
at the fabrication yard---both of which were
masked by complaints about the health and
safety conditions at the facility.
In a real sense, then, the Cabinet's failure
to provide the sanction for Angelin in a time-
ly fashion---and at least some agreement on
the key terms of the long-term contractual
arrangements for the supply of natural gas
by BP to NGC---would have compounded the
pre-existing wariness of the energy company
to trust the La Brea workers to honour their
employment contracts. It is a straight case of:
"fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice,
shame on me," and the need by BP to promote
and protect shareholder value.
On the issue of the cargo ser-
vice between Trinidad and
Tobago, it seems to me that
former Works and Transport
Minister Fitzgerald Hinds
took a Note to Cabinet in
April 2016 recommending that the Super Fast
Galicia's contract be extended for 18 months
from April 2016 to October 2017.
Cabinet did not approve the Note brought
by Mr Hinds, which would have allowed more
than enough time for Cabinet to approve a re-
placement vessel for the service.
Having rejected Mr Hinds' recommenda-
tion for an 18-month extension for the Galicia,
Cabinet should have moved immediately, in
May 2016, to source a replacement vessel for
the inter-island cargo service.
Instead, what Cabinet seems to have done is
ignore the issue for eight months, leaving it to
fester until the owners of the Galicia---who had
been reduced to a month-to-month contract---
provided the mandatory two-weeks notice of
the withdrawal of the vessel on April 1, 2017
The question that must unavoidably be asked
is this: why didn't the Cabinet move to source
a replacement for the Galicia in May, 2016?
Didn't any one of the 24 or 25 members of
Cabinet realise the danger to the inter-island
cargo service of not moving immediately to
source a replacement for the Galicia?
In the April 12, 2017 edition of the T&T
Guardian, Rosemarie Sant reported that former
Chair of the Port Authority, Christine Sahadeo,
commissioned a March 2016 evaluation of the
suitability of the Super Fast Galicia by Captain
Alfred McMillan of Magellan Maritime Services
Ltd without the knowledge of the Board.
Continued on Page 4
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