Government will explore energy market expansion with the Chinese delegation which arrives in T&T tomorrow, Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine has said.Speaking at yesterday's post-Cabinet media briefing, Ramnarine acknowledged T&T will have to seek new markets for energy products since its main customer, the United States, projects energy self-sufficiency by 2020 and has boasted of enough shale oil supply to "last 100 years."
The 280-strong Chinese delegation, led by China's President Xi Jinping, arrives in T&T tomorrow night and will spend Saturday touring projects, including the children's hospital construction site, before leaving on Sunday.The Chinese delegation arrival comes on the heels of a visit by US Vice-President Joe Biden earlier this week.
At yesterday's post-Cabinet briefing, Ramnarine said the price of natural gas in China was three times the price in the US. He said T&T had already supplied four cargoes of liquefied natural gas to China and this was increased recently to five."We expect this will increase," he added.He said the expansion of the Panama Canal would also facilitate supply flows between T&T and China.
Ramnarine said during Wednesday's visit by Biden, a memorandum of understanding was signed towards collaboration on renewable energy, including solar, wind and other types of energy.He said the agreement included a renewable energy centre which would serve the Caribbean and would be funded by the income from production-sharing contracts.
Noting potential fall-off of US energy business as that country looks inward for its supply, Ramnarine added: "(So) the industry in T&T has to evolve and stay competitive. We've drafted a national energy policy, now being fine-tuned, before being taken to Cabinet."Ramnarine said interest has been expressed in another bid round, currently open, involving three blocks of land – 150,000 acres. A deep-water bid round for six blocks will be launched in June.
The production-sharing contract with BHP Billiton, now being vetted, is likely to be signed next month, he added. Ramnarine said the Ryder Scott audit report is also expected in July.Ramnarine also said recommendations had been made to improve power systems for the country following the Good Friday nationwide blackout which was triggered by a shutdown of the Phoenix Park plant.
Recommendations included making stations capable of self-starting when outages occur, bypass capacity at Phoenix Park and the NSC, installing dual fuel capacity at power stations and infrastructure to allow T&TEC to source all power from Trinidad Generation Unlimited.