Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 5th 2013 Contents BG10 ENERGY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt DECEMBER 2013 • WEEK ONE
Two major prospective invest-
ments in T&T s gas industry
are still under consideration
and in negotiations, Energy
and Energy Affairs Minister
Kevin Ramnarine told the Sen-
ate on November 26.
Independent senator David Small asked the
minister: "Would the minister kindly inform
this Senate as to the status of approvals for
natural gas supplies for the following natural
gas downstream projects: (a) Gasfin s Con-
stantine Medium-scale liquified natural gas
(LNG) project; and (b) Eastern Caribbean Gas
The Eastern Caribbean Gas Pipeline Project
is an ambitious joint venture to build a gas
pipeline from Tobago to Barbados to Martinique
and then to Guadeloupe, with an investment
of approximately US$1 billion. It was first
announced in 2002 by then Prime Minister
Patrick Manning, but the lead partner in the
project, Beowulf Energy LLC came on board,
with a 60 per cent stake, only in 2012.
Gasfin s Constantine Medium-scale LNG
project, dubbed Caribbean LNG, is (initially)
a US$400 million venture to produce 500,000
tonnes per year of LNG from La Brea. Roland
Fisher, chief executive officer (CEO) of Lux-
embourg-registered Gasfin Development SA,
first proposed the project to the Ministry of
Energy and Energy Affairs (MEEA) in 1999.
To Small s questions, Ramnarine responded:
"The Gasfin Constantine Medium-scale LNG
project is currently under consideration by
the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs and
National Energy, formerly NEC. As a conse-
quence, there is no approval thus far of a nat-
ural gas supply by Cabinet for this project."
On the gas pipeline, Ramnarine said: "With
regard to the Eastern Caribbean Gas Pipeline
Project, there is no approval of a gas supply
arrangement at this time as negotiations for
a backstop supply arrangement between the
National Gas Company of T&T (NGC) and
the Eastern Caribbean Gas Pipeline Company
are in progress."
Small then asked the minister to provide a
timeline by when the projects would be allo-
cated gas supplies.
The energy minister responded: "I would
not have that information at this point in time
on me, but both projects are; in the case of
Gasfin, the consideration being given to that
project is fairly advanced, as is the case with
the Eastern Caribbean Gas Pipeline Company.
At a later date I could probably, you know, if
I get the information and I could provide that."
Following is a report on the exchange
between Minister Ramnarine and Opposition
senator Faris al-Rawi.
Al-Rawi: "You did say negotiations are in
progress. Is the minister able to assist us with
the state of negotiations and, perhaps, who
those negotiations are being conducted
through? Is it through, as the minister put it,
the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs or
the NEC or both?"
Ramnarine: In the case of the Eastern
Caribbean Gas Pipeline Project, "those nego-
tiations are being conducted between the NGC
and the Eastern Caribbean Gas Pipeline Com-
pany. With regard to Gasfin, that project is
under consideration and discussions are ongo-
ing between that company and the Ministry
of Energy and Energy Affairs and National
Al-Rawi: "If T&T is an entity involved in
the company itself, the Eastern Caribbean Gas
Company? Do we have stakeholding or equity
share in that particular company?"
Ramnarine: "Well, it depends on, of course,
what is T&T. NGC has 10 per cent equity in
the project and there is a percentage of equity
which is held by the Unit Trust Corporation,
and I believe, Guardian Holdings Ltd also has
some equity in that project. So if the answer
is whether it is the Government, I would say
yes, through the National Gas Company."
A Business Guardian story on July 4 had
reported that Beowulf holds 60 per cent;
Guardian Holdings Ltd (GHL) 15 per cent; Unit
Trust Corporation (UTC) 15 per cent; and NGC
ten per cent.
Al-Rawi: "Has a memorandum of under-
standing been executed with respect to this,
albeit that an agreement has not yet been per-
Ramnarine: "A memorandum of under-
Al-Rawi: "Yes, minister, I mean, in terms
of a precursor to perfection of an agreement
between the Eastern Caribbean Gas Pipeline
Company and the various stakeholders,
whether a memorandum of understanding or
memorandum of agreement, some form of
prior agreement or heads of agreement? Has
there been any sort of crystallisation along
Ramnarine: "I do not have that informa-
tion, so if you file another question I will cer-
tainly answer that question. I do not have that
information on me right now."
Al-Rawi: "Sure, so in preparing to answer
this question and in reference to the state of
negotiations, which are ongoing, the ministry
has not provided the background material.
How is it then that we are actually negotiating,
under what term of reference?"
Ramnarine: "This is a debate or?"
Al-Rawi: "No, it is a question. How then
are we negotiating these contracts without
some form of term of reference agreed between
Ramnarine: "Mr President, I do not know
where this line of questioning is going now.
It is becoming meandering. With regard to
the Eastern Caribbean Gas Pipeline, there is
a gas negotiation going on between NGC and
the Eastern Caribbean Gas Pipeline Company.
The NGC is guided by, of course, the principles
that it has been guided by for many years.
"With regard to the Gasfin project, there
was a proposal which was submitted to the
Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs and the
National Energy Corporation. I cannot say
exactly when, but a proposal was submitted.
That proposal was evaluated and assessed by
National Energy and that is where that is right
Al-Rawi: "Has that proposal been tabled
at the Finance and General Purposes (F&GP)
Committee or Cabinet yet?"
Leader of Government Business in the Senate
Ganga Singh: "Nah, nah yuh cyan."
Before he could finish, Al-Rawi countered:
"It is either yes or no. Why can I not?"
Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith:
"Senator, I need to point out that the question
is the status of approval for natural gas and,
therefore, we need to confine our question
relative to that and the answers submitted.
You seem to be going into a different path
outside of the parameters of the question."
Al-Rawi: "Mr President, I am entitled,
under the Standing Orders, with greatest
respect, to ask questions based upon the
Hamel-Smith said: "Sure."
Al-Rawi: "So that was a very fair question,
in my opinion, to put forward to the minis-
Ramnarine: "I would answer him. Both
projects have been before the standing com-
mittee and very recently, as recent as the last
meeting of the standing committee, which
was on November 8. So that is before the
Al-Rawi: "So in answer to your question,
has it been tabled at F&GP, Cabinet?
Ramnarine: "No, not yet."
Energy Minister on Caribbean LNG,
Eastern Caribbean Gas Pipeline:
Argentina has threatened oil businesses operating off the Falk-
land Islands with fines, confiscations and jail sentences for their
Argentina s embassy in London said new laws had been passed
by the country s congress to clamp down on exploration it claims
is in breach of UN decisions.
The UK s Foreign Office insisted the activities were legitimately
controlled by the islands government.
Islanders recently voted overwhelmingly to remain a British
The embassy said legislation "provides for prison sentences
for the duration of up to 15 years; fines equivalent to the value
of 1.5 million barrels of oil; the banning of individuals and com-
panies from operating in Argentina; and the confiscation of
equipment and any hydrocarbons that would have been illegally
It said in a statement: "The Argentine government has protested
against and rejected all of the United Kingdom s attempts to
promote and authorize such hydrocarbon exploration and exploita-
tion activities in the area of the Argentine continental shelf.
"These attempts are manifestly contrary to Resolution 31/49
of the United Nations General Assembly, which requires the UK
and Argentina to refrain from taking decisions that would imply
introducing unilateral modifications into the situation of the
Malvinas Islands while the sovereignty dispute between the two
countries is still pending."
In a referendum in March, Falkland Islanders decided by 1,513
votes to three to remain a UK overseas territory, but Argenti-
na---which calls the islands the Malvinas---has stepped up its
claims to them at the United Nations.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: "Hydrocarbons activities
by any company operating on the continental shelf of the Falkland
Islands are regulated by legislation of the Falkland Islands gov-
ernment, in strict accordance with the United Nations Convention
of the Law of the Sea.
"As such these activities are wholly legitimate and legal. The
UK government unequivocally supports the right of the Falkland
Islanders to develop their natural resources for their own economic
Argentine threat over Falkland Islands oil operations
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