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Ramnarine tells Khan:Explain wrong gas production data

Published: 
Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Kevin Ramnarine, who served as Energy Minister in the People’s Partnership administration, wants the man who currently holds that portfolio, Franklin Khan, to explain how the ministry managed to release inaccurate gas production figures.

Ramnarine said he found it strange that the ministry neglected to include the Juniper project in its forecast and he wants Khan to explain what information was supplied to Standard & Poor (S&P) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Juniper is bpTT’s first sub-sea field development in T&T, producing gas from the Corallita and Lantana fields via a platform 80 kilometres off the south-east coast of Trinidad.

“I’m not sure what happened but the Ministry of Energy knew about the impact of the Juniper project since 2014, so I find it hard to believe that they missed that in any forecast,” Ramnarine said.

“I have always maintained that the Ministry of Energy has excellent public servants, so I think the ministry should clear the air on what happened.”

Describing the incident as, “a strange series of events,” Ramnarine said the Ministry of Finance should not be comparing a January 2018 average, which covers just one month to the average for the 12 months of 2017.

He said there are serious implications in terms of ratings, assessments and policy formulation.

“We are developing a reputation among the multilateral agencies and the rating agencies as having less than reliable data. This latest event will only add to that reputation,” he said.

“The bottom line is natural gas production in 2018 will rebound, thanks mainly to Juniper and to a lesser extent Trinidad Onshore Compression (TROC) and Sercan, but we are by no means out of the woods.

The question is can this rebound be sustained beyond 2019.”

Ramnarine said in his reading of the S&P report, the revision from stable to negative was not premised on the natural gas production outlook but on depletion of foreign assets, access to foreign exchange and investor uncertainty.

“Any data leaving the Ministry of Energy to be given to multilateral agencies or rating agencies should be scrutinised and approved by the Minister and the Permanent Secretary. This is how it happened during my tenure,” he said.

Khan did not respond to requests for an interview. His secretary said he was in a meeting and calls to his mobile phone went unanswered.

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