Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 13th 2014 Contents This is a pivotal time for the oil
and gas industry of T&T. As
a nation, our energy sector is
faced with several challenges,
both external and internal. Yet,
at the same time, there are
enormous opportunities to extract both direct
and indirect value from the sector. These are
urgent times, but they are also hopeful, pro-
vided that we can come together collectively
with the optimum strategy, enthusiasm and,
most importantly, a new paradigm for
unearthing the maximum benefit from oil and
It can be said that this nation s oil and gas
reserves and any revenues they generate belong
first and foremost to the citizens of T&T.
Though stewardship of these resources may
be given over by the people, ultimate own-
ership, oversight and responsibility resides
only with them.
Therefore, they must not only be included
in the conversation, but given the relevant
information and perspectives to make a sub-
Putting the sector under a
At this stage in our energy industry s devel-
opment, it is imperative to conduct a com-
prehensive evaluation of its structure and
workings. In fact, it could be argued that this
kind of critical analysis should be a constant
component of our national policy. Not only
is our energy sector central to the economy,
it must compete in an ever-evolving global
And though there are several incisive and
outspoken voices that examine the sector from
many different perspectives, we need to do
more. We need to raise national awareness to
the point that new ideas have the momentum
necessary to make an impact on policy.
Some of the overarching areas within our
energy sector which require urgent evaluation
• Policy: What are the policies that deter-
mine how the sector operates? When were
they created and are they still appropriate for
the current local and international conditions?
Are there facets of the sector that operate
without a well-defined policy? Are the existing
policies actually being followed? What should
a 21st century energy sector policy look like?
• Governance: Is the governance structure
of our energy sector as effective as it could
be? What kind of oversight mechanisms are
in place and are they good enough? What is
the framework under which our energy
resources are managed? How do we ensure
that we develop our human resources to create
the next generation of policymakers, leaders
and managers for the sector?
Specific areas in need of evaluation
• Overseas investment strategy: Can T&T
leverage its experience, knowledge and capital
into new investment opportunities in other
markets, particularly emerging markets like
Africa? Do we have a well-articulated invest-
ment strategy? Is our approach aggressive and
agile enough to seek out new opportunities
and facilitate agreements in a timely manner?
• Attracting new investment: Are we doing
enough to attract new energy sector invest-
ment? Apart from fiscal measures, what else
can we do to make T&T an attractive desti-
nation for foreign investment?
• Licenses and taxation: As the main mech-
anisms through which Government manages
the industry and collects revenues, are our
systems of licensing and taxation working to
the optimum advantage of the nation? How
are license arrangements determined? Are we
collecting the tax revenues we should be col-
lecting in the proper timeframe?
• Oil and gas exploration and production:
Where can we find new oil and gas? How can
we extend the life of the sector and create new
economic opportunities? Can we increase
profitability by making better use of our smaller
and land-based fields?
Time for a reboot
T&T has an outstanding legacy as a pioneer
in the global oil and gas business. Whatever
challenges we face today should in no way
detract from the important accomplishments
that our country has achieved during its more
than 100 years of involvement in energy. We
should look at that legacy as a guide to the
kind of forethought and dynamism required
to engineer a successful energy industry. There
have been several occasions on which our
leaders---be they political or within the sec-
tor---have paused, taken a hard look at the
environment and embarked upon a new path.
This is what is required of us once more.
In this space, we will highlight many dif-
ferent areas of concern within the sector, but
these are all symptoms of a single issue. At
the policy level our energy industry has stopped
The technology evolves, the market grows,
the capabilities of local and international players
expand, the competition adapts but our policies
remain the same. Systems that do not change
and grow will eventually be subject to deteri-
oration. We are already experiencing this to a
It is time for a reboot.
In 1963, our policymakers pursued a strategy
crafted to use the energy industry to help build
our economy and by extension, the nation.
They asked the important, big picture questions:
how do we get more value out of the sector?
How do we get more oil out of the ground?
How do we improve the investment climate?
That vision drove us successfully for three
decades. Now we need a new vision.
Let us regroup and see how best we can take
the sector forward. Many of our post-Inde-
pendence senior professionals have moved on
from the industry. This new era of professionals
is well-poised to develop their own innovations
and build a new legacy.
In addition, the unparalleled knowledge shar-
ing tools provided by the Internet can help us
to better include the general public in this crucial
discussion. They are already more educated
and better informed than any preceding gen-
eration. Collectively, we can address these con-
cerns and advance T&T to the next phase of
energy sector development.
In non-consecutive articles, the chamber
will examine the energy sector and take a critical
look at its many facets, outlining the difficult
issues that are hampering the sector and pro-
viding potential solutions and alternate
BG20 | COMMENTARY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt FEBRUARY 2014 • WEEK TWO
T&T Chamber of
Industry and Commerce
Rebooting T&T's energy sector
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