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Trinidad, Venezuela sign gas supply pact

Published:Wednesday | December 7, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Keith Rowley.
President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro.

Trinidad & Tobago and Venezuela signed an agreement Monday that will allow Caracas to supply the Caricom country with up to 500 million cubic feet per day of natural gas from its fields in the Mariscal Sucre region.

Trinidad Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro signed the accord.

Caracas already has an oil pact with a number of Caricom countries called PetroCaribe, under which it supplies oil on credit terms, giving off-takers up to 25 years to pay for shipments.

The gas pact with Trinidad was signed in Caracas. Ahead of his departure, Rowley had told reporters in Port-of-Spain that the agreement was important to his country's continued presence as a powerhouse in the methanol and ammonia global markets.

"Some of the plants on the Point Lisas industrial estate have been operating at between 20-30 per cent below capacity and they need to operate

above 90 per cent to be profitable ... therefore, we need to ensure that they have the natural gas necessary," said the Trinidad PM.

Trinidad is the largest exporter of methanol in the world and the largest exporter of ammonia to the United States. It is also the sixth-largest global exporter of LNG. However, it has over the last four years been plagued by gas curtailments because of slow production.

The agreement with Venezuela will supply gas from the Patao, Mejillones and Rio Caribe fields when they are developed. It will lead to a joint pipeline project between Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) and Trinidad and Tobago's National Gas Company (NGC).

Rowley said for the last year, the Energy Ministry, NGC, PDVSA and the government of Venezuela had worked consistently towards reaching the point where commercial users of natural gas can find supplies from Venezuelan fields which are close to local end users.

Rowley said the project would be the first to move gas from Venezuelan fields to Trinidad pipelines, then towards Point Lisas to supply local facilities.