Regionally, energy remains a significant issue in the development thrust of the Caribbean. CARICOM countries, with the exception of Trinidad and Tobago are net energy importers and as such are extremely vulnerable to extended periods of high prices for energy. Several policy initiatives have been undertaken by Government to help the countries in the region.
The Government established the CARICOM Oil Facility Fund’ which now has an annual allocation of TT$420 Million, and supported the creation of the Regional Development Fund (RDF) to assist countries in the region in times of high-energy prices.
Trinidad and Tobago also chaired a Task Force, which prepared a Draft Regional Energy Policy document addressing the following issues:
Further Trinidad and Tobago continues to play a pivotal support role in the development and implementation of the Eastern Caribbean Gas Pipeline as one of the initiatives that can reduce the cost of energy in the Eastern Caribbean region.
All of these policy initiatives are positive actions by the Government to lend assistance to CARICOM.
Regarding our relations with Venezuela, the Government’s policy has been one of seeking avenues to further deepen the relationship between the two countries. In this context an MOU was signed in August 2003 for the unitisation of hydrocarbon reservoirs that extend across the Delimitation line between the two countries. Further a framework treaty was signed between the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela was signed by the President of Venezuela and the Hon. Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago on March 20, 2007.
Trinidad and Tobago is not a signatory to the Petro Caribe Agreement, which is a Caribbean Oil Alliance with Venezuela. However, Trinidad and Tobago respects the sovereign right of CARICOM States to participate in the Alliance. Additionally Trinidad and Tobago is willing to process Venezuelan crude oil for the benefit of CARICOM States, which are parties to Agreement.
The Government recognises that Trinidad and Tobago’s relationship with other international energy players is necessary for growth in “global business”. Therefore, it is government’s policy to foster healthy relationships with key players within the industry, so that we would be able to learn and continue to keep abreast of new developments in the global energy sector. Therefore On the extra-regional front Trinidad and Tobago has continued with a policy of sharing expertise and has offered technical assistance to several countries. Several delegations from countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Brazil, and El Salvador have visited Trinidad and Tobago. In addition, a Trinidad and Tobago delegation in April 2007 made a visit to four West African countries in the first instance: Chad, Gabon, Nigeria and Benin sharing our expertise in the sector and offering technical assistance. This initiative is ongoing.
In 2007, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago extended an offer of assistance to countries of the West African region, free of charge. There was also the proposal in 2007 for Trinidad and Tobago to host a meeting of ministers with responsibility for energy which was eventually postponed to a date to be finalised.
Since that time, there have been several visits from countries in that region seeking various types of assistance/advice on matters affecting the development of their respective industries. These visits have been coordinated by the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs with assistance from the National Energy Corporation. However, the question as to the exact form that the assistance Trinidad and Tobago is able to provide and the resources that can be dedicated to this effort has yet to be fully clarified.