Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 3rd 2014 Contents 8
It was an enlightening conversation that changed
my views on several aspects of the energy sector and
helped me to appreciate its role in our country.
I only wish citizens of Trinidad and Tobago could sit
and chat with someone like Joel "Monty" Pemberton --
the dynamic Chief Executive Officer of Trinity Explo-
ration and Production plc.
Pemberton began his career at Trinity in 2005 when
he joined the company as Chief Financial Officer, becom-
ing CEO in 2009. Since then, Trinity has grown into the
leading Independent in the energy industry in Trinidad
and Tobago. The company has raised US$105 million in
equity and arranged debt facilities in excess of US$50
million to fund growth by corporate acquisitions, merg-
ers and further develop core operations.
Asked about the concerns regarding our oil and gas
reserves, Pemberton stated, "Oil and gas is a finite re-
source, there is no question about that. The real ques-
tion is at what point in time would it come to an end?
However, I strongly believe that there is still a fair
amount of oil and gas to be discovered in Trinidad & To-
bago, hence the reason why Trinity is investing signifi-
cantly in its exploration and development activities.
However, investment in the energy sector has come
from international sources, since local investors have
historically stayed away from investing. As such, contin-
ued investment in this sector is dependent on global
capital markets and the competitiveness of the regime
in T&T. It is therefore important as a country, that we in-
vest in all other sectors so as to reduce the impact of
global capital markets and more importantly have a bal-
anced portfolio...as your grandmother always said, do
not put all your eggs in one basket."
In addition, Pemberton pointed out "Over the last 20
years we have become a predominantly gas based econ-
omy and oil production has consistently declined over
several years. Our view is that this is primarily due to a
lack of investment within the oil acreage to stimulate oil
The CEO then spoke on diversification. He insisted
that being diversified (in terms of having a balance in
the various sectors that contribute to GDP) makes the
country more resilient to external shocks. He said,
"Focus on all areas of the economy so that there is an
equitable balance between what drives the economy
and we're not reliant heavily on one sector. There should
be greater investment in all areas of the economy, how-
ever, we should not move away from the one sector
that currently contributes somewhere between 80 to
85% of the GDP to the country (according to a report by
the late Trevor Boopsingh)."
Questioned as to whether or not he thinks there is
enough appreciation for the role of the energy sector,
the vibrant CEO believes that there could be more.
"Many of our citizens do not fully understand the impact
that it [the energy sector] has on them. Without the en-
ergy sector, the standard of living in T&T would be very
How does the CEO see Trinity's recent oil discovery at
its TGAL-1 exploration well and what does it mean for
Trinity? "It certainly boosted investor confidence for
Trinity" Pemberton admitted. "We raised capital at the
beginning of last year when we listed on the London
stock exchange so the investors are quite happy that
we were able to deploy capital and find initial reserves.
Joel "Monty" Pemberton first worked as a Chartered
Accountant auditing with Ernst & Young in Trinidad &
Tobago and in London where he gained insights into
major companies and exposure to the energy industry.
This was the foundation for him to later take up the po-
sition of Assistant Vice President-Energy Sector of
RBTT Merchant Bank Limited when he returned to
Trinidad and Tobago in 2004. He was instrumental in
establishing the Energy Division of the Merchant Bank,
leading the initiative with the formation of a private eq-
uity fund. This was where he met Bruce Dingwall, and
it was the beginning of a solid relationship between the
two that led to Monty joining Trinity's predecessor, Ten
Degrees North Energy Limited, at inception as the
Chief Financial Officer.
Exposure to international business while working in
London broadened Mr. Pemberton's appreciation of var-
ious cultures. It widened his knowledge of the energy
sector and helped him develop a deep understanding
and appreciation for the importance of sound internal
control as well as effective governance. In addition, Mr.
Pemberton's ability to manage change and harness the
power of diversity became key factors in his leadership
style. This unique arrangement of skills, experience and
exposure produced the qualities required to manage a
business successfully. More importantly, Mr. Pember-
ton recognises that in life, all positions are transient,
hence the importance of building sustainable busi-
nesses which ensure that the needs of current or fu-
ture stakeholders are taken into consideration.
Mr. Pemberton has brought an international busi-
ness perspective to the fast-paced and dynamic
Trinidad and Tobago energy sector. He has developed
his own success formula and has found his niche in an
environment where his professional training, exposure
overseas and knowledge of the energy industry com-
bine. Mr. Pemberton's positive leadership style embod-
ies an all-encompassing approach and it is this
commitment to inclusiveness which continues to pro-
pel Trinity forward.
This shows that there are still reserves to be found from a
country perspective, which continues to be stimulated by
the introduction of various fiscal incentives. So with more
exploration and development activities currently underway
by several companies, we hope to find additional reserves."
As for what comes after this oil find for Trinity, Pember-
ton disclosed, "It is more work. It gives us greater confi-
dence in that basin -- the Galeota block -- from an
exploration perspective. There are some development
challenges that we are going to overcome but it will just
take some time to actually do the front end engineering
work properly," he admitted. "We're currently going
through that phase, and hopefully we could reach commer-
cial production as quickly as possible."
He further explained, "It requires a fair amount of capital
investment which requires additional capital to be raised..
Some may think that because you discovered oil you're
rich, but this isn't usually the case. The next step would be
to find additional capital, debt or equity which requires us
to demonstrate the economic viability of this project to in-
vestors. A lot of work is required to achieve first produc-
tion and start earning cash. That doesn't change the fact
though that we are very excited!"
So what should be done in 2014 to ensure a successful
sector? Pemberton states, "The bottom line is, we need to
do whatever it takes to stimulate activity and remain com-
petitive internationally." So how can this be done? He
stressed that, "It is important to have the appropriate con-
versations with all stakeholders. The common objective
should be ensuring that all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago
Joel "Monty" Pemberton,
CEO, Trinity Exploration and
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