Opportunities in the energy sector must be optimised to foster a sustainable and stable economy in the future, Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie has said. In his address at a seminar on a Achieving Sustainability in Regions with Extractive Industries in south Trinidad, Tewarie said this must be done even as efforts continue to diversify T&T’s economic base. “These are the twin considerations driving the Medium Term Policy Framework.—how to get the most out of oil and gas assets, developed and created, current, future and evolving and how to create new opportunities outside of this sector because in spite of the value of energy assets, they are inevitably finite,” he said.
The minister said the most recent Ryder Scott audit of T&T’s natural gas reserves showed there had been a two per cent decline in proven reserves in 2011 to 13,257 billion cubic feet (bcf).
Probable reserves also declined and possible reserves increased marginally. He added: “However, another important figure is our unrisked exploratory resources, and this went up by 5,000 bcf, to just over 30,000 bcf. Unrisked exploratory reserves represent the potential for future discoveries, and it is upon this that the future development of the natural gas industry, and in the downstream energy sector, will depend. Tewarie said the increased use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the United States shows that “innovation is always poised to make something that at one time seemed impossible or unfeasible a reality”.
According to the minister, the focus now is on economic transformation in terms of repositioning T&T from depending on hydrocarbon resources to “an information, technology-driven, innovative, knowledge-based and globally connected economy” which must be “rooted in the acquisition, exploitation, creation and strategic deployment of knowledge and skills”. This, he noted, is the position strongly articulated in the Medium Term Policy Framework 2011-2014. Tewarie said government has embarked several strategies to ensure sustained macro-economic stability in terms of investment, growth and job creation.
Diversification to restructure the productive base;
Promote new strategic sectors with the potential for contributing to growth, job creation and innovation;
Develop new growth centres across the country to ensure greater geographical distribution of wealth and to support industrial diversification
Promote innovation and entrepreneurship
Revitalise traditional sectors capable of achieving competitiveness and promote viable clusters capable of achieving sustainability;
Move up the value chain in energy
Develop a sustainable tourism industry.
He said specific areas will be targeted under an industrial diversification policy and strategic business clusters t have already been identified. They are energy, food sustainability, culture and creative industries, maritime, tourism, financial services and IICT.