Recent “misinformation” by the Opposition PNM on the T&T/Venezuelan Loran Manatee gas venture has the potential to damage T&T’s relationship with Venezuela, its standing in the international energy community and it has damaged T&T’s future, says Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine. “Our agreement which was so maligned, mangled and condemned by the PNM’s men of the past is that little key that can open a mighty door to the future,” he said.
“Men of the past will always oppose the future and great minds face violent opposition from mediocre minds.” He, however, assured: “The sovereign interest of T&T is protected at every stage in the agreement on this issue.” During Monday’s Senate budget debate Ramnarine cleared the air after PNM MPs took issue with the project in Lower House budget debate.
He traced the history of the venture from 1974 and 1990 under former prime minister Arthur NR Robinson to 2003 and 2007 when he said there is no record of the government reporting to the Parliament on those agreements. On the agreement signed earlier this month with Venezuela, Ramnarine said the Loran-Manatee field specific treaty distributes the volumes in the Loran-Manatee Field Unit area into 73.06 per cent for Venezuela and 26.94 per cent for T&T.
“The 73.06 per cent of the field on the Venezuelan side in their Block 2 (referred to as Loran) is the property of the Venezuelans and it is their sovereign right to determine how it is to be monetised and where it is to be monetised,” he said. “The 26.94 per cent of the field on the Trinidadian side in our Block 6d (referred to as Manatee) is the property of T&T and it is our sovereign right to determine how it is to be monetised and where it is to be monetised.”
Ramnarine said the agreement concerns the functional structure and governance of the Loran-Manatee Unit Area. “This agreement between two sovereign states is now the subject of gross misunderstanding, misinformation and misconception,” he said. “The events of the last two weeks as far as this agreement is concerned has the potential to damage this country’s relationship with Venezuela, its standing in the international energy community and it has damaged our future.
“Men of the past will always oppose the future. Our future has been sacrificed on the altar of political recklessness by people who aspire to hold high office again in this country.” Ramnarine said the agreement establishes the unit’s operator as well as directing, investing and executing teams. The directing team makes recommendations to the Joint Ministerial Commission and has authority over the operations of the Investment Committee and the Executing Entity.
“The members of the Directing Committee have their voting rights in accordance with their title to natural gas under the Production Sharing Contracts on our side of the border Block 6 and Block 2 on the Venezuelan side,” he said. Ramnarine particularly condemned statements by PNM MP Marlene McDonald on the issue. “How sad the MP, an attorney, would not have seen that the voting rights are computed in accordance with title to natural gas under the Block 6 Production Sharing Contract,” he said.
“On the T&T side, the gas is shared between the Government of T&T and the two contractors BG T&T and Chevron T&T. “Over the years, positions have been advanced as to how and where the natural gas should be monetised. We have advanced that, at the very least, our gas (the 26.94 per cent) should come to this country. “The position of Venezuela has been that they would like to build a pipeline to Guiria where their 73.06 per cent would be monetised,” the minister said.
“We have also advanced a position that the Venezuelans may want to consider some of their gas coming to T&T given the proximity to this country of the Loran-Manatee field and the well developed gas transmission and processing infrastructure we have in this country.
“There’s to date no agreement on this matter. This will be the subject of a development plan. Positions have been advanced by both countries. There are also four companies involved and the key player is Chevron which has a presence on both sides of the border. “A report in the Business Guardian of September 19, 2013, provides an accurate picture of how the Venezuelans might be thinking at this time.” He said there is a right of veto that says that both governments must agree on the decisions of the Directing Committee.
“If there is a decision that we are not in agreement to we can veto that decision and in like manner the Venezuelans can exercise a similar veto.”