Opposition lawmaker, a member of the Venezuelan Assembly, Carlos Valero is warning Government that any treaties or contracts signed between the two countries and which have not been passed by the National Assembly in Venezuela might not be honoured in the future.
In an interview with CNC 3 yesterday before heading back to Venezuela, Valero claimed the National Assembly was the only legitimate body in Venezuela with the authority to ensure that agreements were legal and would be honoured moving forward.
Valero urged local law-makers not to be swayed or manipulated by the promises of the current Venezuelan administration.
The Opposition UNC had raised queries about the legitimacy of the deal in Parliament when Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee asked if it was approved by the Venezuelan National Assembly.
In response, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said: “I am Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and I could only speak to and for Trinidad and Tobago’s involvement in this matter. What goes on in Venezuela is a matter for the Venezuelans, and I cannot speak to what the assembly is required to do.”
On August 27, the Prime Minister and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro signed an agreement in Caracas that will allow the island to access gas from the offshore Dragon field.
Rowley had told the media then, “We may have been able to save our industry by getting a secure source of gas for the downstream sector. It may over time also allow us to look at the expansion of the downstream sector and investments there, as long as we can show investors we have a secured stream of gas.”
The Prime Minister was not willing to disclose the price of the gas, pointing to commercial confidentiality, but he revealed it will be 150 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscf/d), with the possibility of it increasing to 300 mmscf/d.
The pipeline carrying the gas from Venezuela’s Dragon Gas field in Eastern Venezuela to Shell’s Hibiscus platform off the North Coast will be built and owned in a joint venture between the NGC and Shell Trinidad. The estimated cost of the construction of the pipeline is close to TT $1 billion.
T&T has been suffering from gas curtailment for the last six years and it has led to a shortfall in the production of all the commodities including LNG and Petrochemicals and as a consequence significant loss of revenue to the treasure and foreign exchange. Trinidad and Tobago will receive its first gas from Venezuela’s Dragon Field in 2020, according to Bolivarian Republic’s Minister of Energy, Manuel Quevedo, last month.
Open home to Venezuelan refugees—Valero
Assessing the refugee situation in Trinidad, Valero pleaded with locals open their hearts and homes to those fleeing the economic crisis in Venezuela.
He said it was important now to ensure there was a coordinated approach to the humanitarian crisis - both in T&T and Venezuela.
Valero said in 2018, inflation reached one million per cent in Venezuela.
And with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projecting it would reach 10 million per cent in 2019, he said this was why three million people had fled Venezuela.
He admitted a large number of these persons had come to T&T, but he claimed the issue was a “temporal” one and as such, he was imploring Trinidadians to help as much as they could.
Valero called for Government’s support to address the issue on a multi-lateral level using resources from the US and EU.
He said Venezuela was determined to get through this crisis but needed the help and support of other countries in the meantime.
Valero said he and his countrymen were embarrassed by the current crisis which had resulted in hundreds of Venezuelans illegally entering T&T.
However, he appealed to the public to understand that the only guilty sector in this situation was the Venezuelan government as he prayed nothing like this ever happened in T&T.
From discussions with Venezuelans living in T&T, Valero said many had reported going to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for help, but in the absence of any legislation to regulate their migratory problems - they felt they were not protected by the State.
As such, Valero renewed a call for binding legal agreements to address the crisis.
Additionally, he invited the Government to make this problem visible and increase awareness of this problem - as there were 10,000 Venezuelans currently seeking asylum in T&T.
He claimed there were 60,000 Venezuelans in T&T, but warned this could reach as much as 100,000 or even 200,000 as he said the situation in Venezuela was not going to improve anytime soon based on the current Government’s position.
Valero said Venezuela did not have any malice or ill-will towards T&T and its’ people, but that his people needed the help of this country to get through the crisis.