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MHTL resolution by month end

Published: 
Friday, March 17, 2017
Prime Minister Rowley hopeful:
Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Stuart Young during yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s. At left is Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. PHOTO: ANISTO ALVES

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said yesterday the government is hoping to arrive at a resolution of the natural gas supply problem that caused MHTL to close down two of its five methanol plants on the Point Lisas Industrial Estate by the end of this month.

“We think we have a few flickers of light and probably by the end of this month we should have kind of resolution that would first stop any further closure of plants and secondly work towards a supply of gas that would see a reopening of the plants that have been closed down,” said Rowley at a news conference at Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s following the weekly meeting of Cabinet.

MHTL closed two methanol plants at the beginning of this month when the company could not be assured of receiving enough gas from wholly state-owned National Gas Company, which is the national aggregator and distributor of natural gas to companies on the Point Lisas Industrial Estate and at the Atlantic LNG facility at Point Fortin.

He said when he left the news conference he was heading into a meeting to discuss the MHTL issue.

He said the issue of the gas supply to MHTL has been under active discussion for months but “it came to the point of gas closures because the gas simply just was not available. NGC had the difficulty of trying to supply gas to plants without contracts, while there were plants with contracts whose gas had been curtailed.

“NGC was in a bind as to how do you supply gas to plants without contracts...when those companies with binding contracts expect you to keep the contractual obligation to them.”

The prime minister said the resolution of the MHTL issue was not a matter of enforcing binding contracts, but of talking to the parties and developing relationships with them in a way that would lead to a win-win situation.

“That is why our investing environment and the behaviour of our government and the society is important in dealing with the people you talk to. That’s because many of these huge investment decisions are driven by relationships and environments,” Rowley said.

Prime Minister Rowley also said he hoped that the new gas agreement signed with Venezuela on Wednesday would be fleshed out by July.

He was speaking about an agreement signed by Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Stuart Young, in Caracas yesterday, in which Venezuela agreed to export natural gas to T&T.

Shell is expected to build a 17 kilometre (10.6 mile) pipeline from Venezuela’s shallow-water Dragon gas field to its Hibiscus platform off the north coast of Trinidad, following the agreements signed Wednesday in Caracas.

The Dragon field is one of the four fields that make up the 14.7 tcf Mariscal Sucre Project (MSP) to the north of the Paria Peninsula, which aims to produce in the long term, 1.2 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas and up to 28 thousand barrels of oil per day. Other fields in the MSP are the Patao, Mejillones and Rio Caribe fields.

Rowley also said he is travelling to Houston, Texas on March 29 to hold talks with executives from BP, Shell and Exxon Mobil, three of the largest energy companies in the world. BP and Shell are the largest shareholders of Atlantic LNG, while BP is the largest upstream supplier of natural gas in T&T.

The prime minister said he has been invited to make a state visit to Chile during which he expects to deepen T&T’s energy exports to the South American nation.