Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 27th 2013 Contents BG8 | ENERGY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JUNE 2013 • WEEK FOUR
Martinique prefers renew-
ables and alternative
energy sources, and
wants to reduce its
dependency on fossil
fuels ahead of the
planned Eastern Caribbean gas pipeline, a June
13 interview with the island s political head
Serge Letchimy indicated.
Unlike some of its Caribbean neighbours,
including T&T and Barbados, Martinique is
not convinced the underwater Eastern Caribbean
gas pipeline will reduce electricity costs suf-
ficiently to justify lending its support.
The US$300 million gas pipeline is already
slated to, in 2014, start on its way from Tobago
to Barbados according to an announcement
made by chief executive officer of the Eastern
Caribbean Gas Pipeline Company Ltd (ECGPC)
Greg Rich. The announcement was reported
in the Guardian on March 26.
The plan is to build the pipeline from Cove
Point Estate in Tobago to Barbados in the first
phase, and then to St Lucia, Dominica, Mar-
tinique, and Guadeloupe in the second. ECGPC
is owned 60 per cent by Boewulf Energy LLC
of New York, and First Reserve Energy Inter-
national Fund collectively. Guardian Holdings
Ltd (GHL) owns 15 per cent. The Unit Trust
Corporation (UTC) owns another 15 per cent;
and the National Gas Company (NGC) owns
the remaining 10 per cent.
While at the Hilton Trinidad in Port-of-
Spain, Letchimy, the president of the local gov-
ernment of Martinique known as the "regional
council," said he secured T&T s support to
become an associate member of Caricom. His-
tory will not allow Martinique to become a full
member because it is still a French colony or
overseas department (department outremer in
French). Caricom has 15 full members and five
associate members. Until now, all the associate
members were British colonies which are now
referred to as "overseas territories."
Letchimy also used his visit to T&T to invite
local businesses to Martinique s investment
conference in November. He said trade between
the two countries is very weak and he wants
that to change. Asked about stalled T&T cement
exports in Fort de France, Letchimy said: "I
know there s a big problem with (what) is the
local fiscal system in Martinique on the issue
of cement imports, and all of that will be dis-
cussed within the framework of Caricom."
He said Caricom will become for Martinique
"a special negotiation space."
He said that Caricom s negative list on Euro-
pean products, which includes Martiniquan
products, will also have to be discussed. This
includes a lot of products and services: phar-
maceuticals, agro-industrial products, waste
management services, and so on.
Martinique to engage NGC
Coming out of this trip, Letchimy also man-
aged to spur a visit to Martinique by a technical
team from NGC in September. The team will
look at supplying Martinique with natural gas
for electricity generation at a lower cost to the
On the planned construction of the Eastern
Caribbean gas pipeline Letchimy said: "This is
an old problem." He said: "We are now very
strongly in a stage of energy transition in Mar-
tinique, with an energy mix that could include
He said Martinique is pursuing the harvesting
of energy from the sun, the wind, the ocean,
geothermal and other renewable sources. He
said he sees natural gas as "a good transition
Asked if he supports the construction of the
gas pipeline, he said: "With Trinidad, we need
to study all the scenarios, including transporting
compressed gas by boat."
He said it needs to be examined if the price
of electricity for Martinique will go down by
enough to justify the laying down of a gas
pipeline at the bottom of the sea.
"It has to be known if it will make economic
sense. If there are negotiations now for the
pipeline to reach Barbados, the connection to
the 800,000 people who live in Martinique
and Guadeloupe will give a new economic
dimension to the project. We have to look at
the financial details of the gas connection; at
what price will electricity come out; what is
the real impact," he said.
He said this is something "the local authority
will deal with the T&T authorities on."
"The NGC is to come to Martinique in Sep-
tember with all the relevant stakeholders includ-
ing the Electricity of France (EDF)," he said.
The objective is "to reduce dependency on
fossil fuels and to open the ways for clean ener-
gy," he said.
"We support the possibility of utilising natural
gas as a way to transition to alternative energy.
We will look at all the modalities of how to
bring that gas up (to Martinique) after doing
all the necessary feasibility studies and so on.
We still have not decided how to get that gas
up," he said.
Questioned on whether Martinique will be
opening up its waters for oil and gas exploration
and production as French Guiana has done, he
said: "We don t have plans to search for oil and
gas. We are more in favour of the energy tran-
T&T to support Martinique's
While here, the president of the Regional
Council of Martinique met with Prime Minister
Kamla Persad-Bissessar and ministers of foreign
affairs, energy, planning, trade, culture and
other government officials.
"The first thing is that we asked the prime
minister (of T&T), as incoming head of Caricom
from July, for her support of Martinique s entry
into Caricom as an associate member," he told
the Business Guardian.
"The prime minister confirmed her personal
support, and the support of her government,"
he said. The prime minister, who will be the
then chair, also invited him to attend the 25th
Intersessional Meeting of the Conference of
Heads of State and Government of Caricom in
Port-of-Spain in July, he said. The intersessional
meeting, a de facto Caribbean summit, Letchimy
said "is very important for us because we have
begun a dynamic of active integration with the
organisations of the Caribbean."
"In one year, we have advanced our candidacy
as either an associate member or member of
the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States
(OECS), the Association of Caribbean States
(ACS) and the Economic Commission for Latin
America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and Cari-
com," he said. Lethimy said Martinique expects
to be "positively welcome" into the region.
Asked if this would mean the removal of
taxes on trade between Martinique and Caricom,
he said: "Within the framework of the process
of attaining its Caricom associate membership,
all the different fiscal modalities will be dis-
cussed." At present, the conditions of the Euro-
pean Union (EU) Economic Partnership Agree-
ment (EPA) with Caricom apply on exports
from T&T to Martinique, Guadeloupe and
French Guiana, as if the exports were to France.
In addition, local businesses must face the over-
seas departments own local tax systems.
Letchimy sees other areas for cooperation
as well. Research and development, biodiversity,
air and maritime transport, culture, and uni-
versity exchanges, are areas in which Martinique
welcomes cooperation with T&T, he said.
"This is a very, very important moment for
us because I cannot conceive Martinique s eco-
nomic progress and development without real
integration in its natural geographic environ-
ment," he said.
Currently, trade between T&T and Martinique
is "very weak," he said. Between T&T and Mar-
tinique there are some joint projects which
started years ago and continue, but outside of
that, there is very little trade between the two.
"We have a waterfront project with Trinida-
dian investors," he said. GHL chairman Arthur
Lok Jack in his report for GHL s 2012 third
quarter results mentioned the Pointe Simon
project in Martinique.
On "the joint venture project in Martinique
of which GHL is the major partner," Lok Jack
said: "This comprises development of a water-
front site, adjacent to the cruise port in Mar-
tinique s capital city, and the construction of
three separate but integrated buildings. Physical
work commenced in 2008 and is now sub-
"The commercialisation phase of the project
is underway. This will include selling the remain-
ing unsold luxury condominiums, while the
two commercial buildings and retail spaces will
achieve their commercialisation through a
combination of sales and leases.
"We remain confident in the ultimate success
of this project as it builds on the successful
model we have deployed in developing property
in Trinidad and elsewhere. However, prevailing
economic conditions demand that we adjust
our view of the expected economic returns to
Good launch pad to Europe
Letchimy also said that Martinique will be
hosting an investment conference on November
21 and 22 "and we are hoping that a lot T&T,
and other investors, will come because Mar-
tinique is also an investment territory, and it
is also a production territory. It can also be a
good place from which to export to Europe."
Asked if he would like to see trade between
T&T and Martinique reach the level it is with
French Guiana, he said this would not be pos-
sible. "However, while the level of trade between
Martinique (and T&T) could not mirror that
with French Guiana, if we can increase it sub-
stantially, that would be a great thing. It is
unacceptable that the current trade is so low."
Martinique prefers alternative
energy to gas pipeline
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