Trinidad and Tobago’s (T&T) total 2017 natural gas output grew by an average of 262 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd), representing a growth of 7.7% with respect to 2016 production mainly due to two major projects, Juniper and Sercan. Upstream operators committed to spend over $10 billion in exploration and development activities over five years starting in 2015. Indeed this new flow of investment is behind BHP’s 2016 LeClerc discovery and Victoria in July 2018, both in deep water.

At present the government continues to reiterate its intention to set up a subsidiary that would receive and aggregate the upstream natural gas production to then allocate it to both domestic industry and LNG consumption. Furthermore the government has prioritised the review of LNG export contracts with the objective of maximising LNG sales net back value in the form of revenue to the state.

LNG contract renegotiations between operators and the government will confront the government interest in gaining more revenue from LNG sales and the operator’s stronger position as main upstream producers and investors in the Atlantic LNG plant. Given the low equity participation of the government in the upstream assets via National Gas Company of T&T, it seems the negotiating leverage is stronger for the main operating companies BP , Shell and EOG.

Trinidad & Tobago marketed natural gas production 2010-2025

Source: GlobalData Oil and Gas                                                                                                                                                                      © GlobalData

As a parallel strategy Trinidad’s government continues negotiating with the Venezuelan authorities and PDVSA to finalise an agreement for the join exploitation of the Dragon gas field in the Mariscal Sucre region, this field could provide up to 100mmcfd of gas supply to T&T. Judging by recent news and statements by both Venezuelan and Trinidadian authorities this joint agreement on Dragon has priority over the older discussion involving the 10tcf cross-border Loran-Manatee gas field. The Venezuela alternative is the most unpredictable given the difficulty to agree on the price to be paid for the exported gas, arguably the Venezuelan government will seek to capture the most out of LNG final sales. Ultimately the current political and economic upheaval in the country make this a reasonable mid-term plan but it can take years before any gas production finds its way to T&T.