United States , Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela
Press Release

Enlightened self-interest: Trinidad & Tobago, Venezuela and global gas markets

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago release

The recent news of of a renewed dialogue between government and opposition in Venezuela and the changing diplomatic stance of the United States towards sanctions opens up a renewed possibility for Trinidad & Tobago to import natural gas via pipeline from Venezuela. With a significant potential to process natural gas exported by pipeline into either LNG or petrochemicals for international markets, Trinidad & Tobago represents the best opportunity for Venezuela to monetise its massive offshore gas reserves and stop harmful and wasteful flaring of associated gas in its oilfields. This will ensure that Venezuela can both generate the income needed to overcome the country’s continuing humanitarian crisis as well as provide the world with additional LNG, fertilisers and lower carbon fuels.

To date, most of the international media attention has been focused on the role of Venezuela as a major oil producer. But the country is also a major potential producer of natural gas, with many untapped multi-trillion cubic feet gas fields off its north and eastern coasts. In part due to underinvestment and lack of access to technology and equipment, the country is also a major contributor to the problem of flaring natural gas, which produces huge volumes of greenhouse gases without any benefit of producing usable energy.

The Government of Trinidad & Tobago has been working the diplomatic channels hard over recent months and years to encourage a rethink of U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan gas exports. According to media reports, the T&T government recently formally applied for a waiver in the sanctions regime. The Energy Chamber of Trinidad & Tobago has fully supported this approach by the Trinidad & Tobago government, and we have often had dialogue on this issue with U.S. diplomats as well as other diplomatic missions and stakeholders. We have also maintained a dialogue with private sector stakeholders in Venezuela on this issue.

Exporting gas from Venezuela to Trinidad & Tobago could be beneficial to many different players and different countries. As with the proposed oil export licenses, it could help secure much needed revenue for humanitarian purposes in Venezuela and will provide natural gas for the downstream petrochemical and LNG sectors in Trinidad, helping secure jobs, foreign exchange and continued business opportunities.

Venezuelan gas processed in Trinidad will then be available to international markets looking for products, especially from a reliable and secure country like Trinidad. From a climate change point of view, the ability to process gas that is currently being flared and bring it into productive use will be a huge win, especially if it then displaces coal-fired electricity.

Given the proximity of many of the fields to Trinidad and the country’s expertise in offshore gas developments, these projects could also provide an opportunity for the Trinidad services industry. In the past, many Trinidadian private sector companies worked in the Venezuela oil sector and, just like many of their American counterparts, also have long outstanding debts that have not be settled. This is an issue that should not be forgotten in the overall discussion.

The Energy Chamber believes that the opportunities presented by the chance to export pipeline gas from Venezuela to Trinidad are too important to be kept on the backburner. We therefore strongly encourage all stakeholders to work assiduously on turning this opportunity, which has been discussed for decades, into a reality. We stand ready to play whatever role necessary to make this happen.

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