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PM: NGC must seek out global investments

Published: 
Monday, July 28, 2014
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, second left, and Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs Kevin Ramnarine, second right, with NGC's chairman Roopchan Chadeesingh, left, and president Indar Maharaj, at NGC's stakeholders appreciation cocktail event at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad hotel, Port-of-Spain, on Thursday. PHOTO: ANDRE ALEXANDER

This weekend’s visit of the Japanese Prime Minister and senior officials of Mitsubishi Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Gas Chemicals, who are involved in a joint venture with local conglomerate Massy Holdings to construct dimethyl ether (DME) and methanol plants, is an indication that Government is doing something right, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has said.

She was speaking at Thursday’s National Gas Company’s (NGC) appreciation cocktail evening at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad hotel, Port-of-Spain. She said NGC’s $6.5 billion 2013 after-tax profit was the highest in its history. “It makes the NGC easily the most profitable locally-owned company and one of the most profitable companies in the region. The NGC contributes significantly to the treasury by way of taxes and dividends. It is therefore fitting that the Government as the shareholder recognise this achievement.”

The Prime Minister said Government’s vision for the NGC is for it to become a global player in energy. 

“As the company continues to grow, it must look beyond these shores and seek out opportunities in the region and internationally. Indeed, many relationships have been forged in the Caribbean region, China, India, Japan and Africa. It is time to turn these relationships into investment opportunities, subject, of course, to proper due diligence. Record level investments and record level profits will mean little if it doesn’t reach the man on the street,” the Prime Minister said.

She said there are many examples in the world of resource-rich countries that have low levels of human development. “T&T has, thankfully, walked a different path,” she said. She said NGC is today at the very core of the economy of T&T, said the Prime Minister. “It operates over 1,000 kilometres of pipeline, supplies natural gas to six power plants, the Point Lisas Industrial Estate and Atlantic.

All our electricity now comes from natural gas. That means that every light bulb, every refrigerator, every air-conditioning unit, every washing machine and every laptop is operating on electricity that comes from a power plant that is being fuelled by natural gas supplied by the NGC.” 

“In the last three years under the guidance of the Government and the Ministry of Energy, the NGC has been transformed from a company that was charged with the responsibility for aggregating, transporting and marketing natural gas to a fully integrated natural gas company with a presence across the natural gas value chain. “The transformation of the company is historic and has come about through three strategic decisions. 

These were, firstly, the self-marketing of its LNG cargoes that were associated with its 11 per cent shareholding in Train IV. Secondly the acquisition of Conoco Phillip’s shares in Phoenix Park Gas Processors Ltd and, thirdly, the acquisition of Total’s upstream assets,” the Prime Minister said.She said these decisions are in keeping with the Government’s energy policy that speaks to increasing national participation in the energy sector, meaning participation by the local private sector.

She said the Government’s energy policy also seeks to create an enabling environment that attracts investment while giving the State a fair return for the monetisation of its resources. 

“It is therefore good to see that investment in the energy sector has been very buoyant in the last three years and has recovered from a period of doldrums where it was in 2008-2010,” Persad-Bissessar said. “In fact, the levels of investment in the energy sector in the period 2011-2014 is the highest in the history of the sector. These strategic decisions, coupled with a forward-looking energy policy, have led to a significant improvement in the performance of the NGC.”