Trinidad and Tobago has been involved in the petroleum sector for over one hundred years undertaking considerable oil and gas exploration activity on land and in shallow water with cumulative production totaling over three (3) billion barrels of oil. As the largest oil and natural gas producer in the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago’s hydrocarbon sector moved from an oil dominant to a mostly natural gas based sector in the early 1990s.
Trinidad and Tobago houses one of the largest natural gas processing facilities in the Western Hemisphere. The Phoenix Park Gas Processors Limited (PPGPL) natural gas liquids (NGL) complex is located in the Port of Savonetta. It has a processing capacity of almost 2 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per day and an output capacity of 70,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) of NGL. After processing the gas is then transferred to the various power generators (POWERGEN, TGU or Trinity power) for generation of electricity and to the petrochemical plants for use as a feedstock.
The electricity sector is fueled entirely by natural gas. Trinidad Generation Unlimited power plant, the second combined cycle plant in the country with a generating capacity of 720 Mega Watts was opened on October 31 2013.
With 11 ammonia plants and seven methanol plants, Trinidad and Tobago is the world’s largest exporter of ammonia and the second largest exporter of methanol, according to IHS Global Insight (2013). Overall production and export for ammonia, methanol, urea and UAN decreased to 428,240 Metric Tonnes (MT) in 2013 from 564,892 MT in 2012.
A diversified energy sector that focuses on production further down the gas value chain maximizes the multiplier effects and value added through the creation of stronger linkages between the energy sector and the rest of the economy. Investments in such projects represent a shift away from the traditional petrochemicals which target foreign markets. The use of more complex petrochemicals locally will expand and deepen growth in the local manufacturing sector, increase employment and increase the country’s GDP. With this vision in mind, the MEEI continues to hold discussions and negotiations with potential investors for downstream projects. Some of these potential downstream and manufacturing projects range from the manufacture of calcium chloride to dimethyl ether (DME).
Looking to the future of downstream gas markets, gas production from non-traditional sources has the potential to transform the global energy landscape. The United States (US) has traditionally relied on imports for its natural gas needs. Emerging shale gas production has brought prices down, encouraging the revival of some idled ammonia and methanol plants and the construction of new facilities that will commence operation over the next few years. This represents a threat that can negatively impact Trinidad and Tobago’s traditional gas markets in the US.
The energy sector accounts for around 34.9% of the country’s GDP. According to the Central Bank, by the end of 2016, an additional 250 million cubic feet per day (mmcf/d) of natural gas is anticipated from EOG Resources from its Sercan field. bpTT is expected to add another 200-300 mmcf/d to natural gas output from its Onshore Compression Project and a further 590 mmcf/d in 2018 from its Juniper field by the end of 2017. Government initiatives to support the industry will be revealed in the new Natural Gas Master Plan which is now before the Cabinet for review.
The energy sector continues to be integral to the long-term economic growth and development of the country contributing significantly to Government revenue, export earnings as well as GDP.