Shell to Start Natural Gas Production in Trinidad
By: Attorney Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth
Shell to Develop Natural Gas Field in Trinidad
Loran Manatee is a natural gas field between Trinidad & Tobago and Venezuela. The field is split between the two nations. U.S. sanctions against Venezuela’s regime prevented joint development.
However, Trinidad officials confirmed this week that they have a deal with Shell to develop Trinidad’s portion of the Loran Manatee field. The two parties have not officially signed the production-sharing contract but expect to do so within the coming weeks.
Trinidad’s Energy Minister, Stuart Young, indicated that this gas field holds the potential for "the single largest new gas production in Trinidad and Tobago for decades[.]”
Trinidad’s new energy exploration should proceed with caution based on its own history of foreign influence and foreign meddling in Middle Eastern oil production.
Trinidad’s Economic Transformation
This quote from President Eric Williams should serve as a warning: “Trinidad and Tobago attracted metropolitan attention only. . .when the discovery of oil made it an object of interest and . . .useful pawn” to British capitalism.
Trinidad’s economy was primarily based on sugarcane and cocoa in colonial times. In the 1900s, the agricultural market was surpassed by the modern oil and gas industry. The oil and gas industry still reigns today. Walter Darwent, a former soldier in the American Civil War, drilled the first successful oil well at Aripero in 1865. He died and the oil industry was on hold for 30 years. John Lee Lum then partnered with Randolph Rust and began large-scale oil production in 1913. Their Guayaguayare oil site is still maintained by Trinidad’s national oil company Petrotrin, and has been designated as a historic site. Petroleum became Trinidad’s main export in the 1950s.
In 1974, and after Trinidad gained independence, the global increase in oil prices directly benefited Trinidad. Trinidad had an estimated TT$694 million surplus. President Eric Williams even advised the nation that “money is no problem.” Correspondingly, the government improved social and economic policies relating to pensions, food prices, schooling, transportation, utilities, and taxation. The government also acquired oil sugar, cement, and asphalt companies. The booming economy saw increased construction and employment.
In the 1990s, the oil sector shifted to mostly natural gas. An energy expert opined that the future of the nation is natural gas: “In the long run, gas has more potential for value-added. Trinidad is sitting on many wells that are gas prone rather than oil rich.” Moreover, the Minister of Energy announced in September of 2020 that the Broadside well in TTDAA3 would be the deepest drill depth in Trinidad. The announcement is important because it highlights progress in Trinidad’s hydrocarbon exploration.
Trinidad’s oil industry initially started with American dominance and British rule. Once free, Trinidad’s economy boomed when it controlled its own industry. On the other hand, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran are still reeling from American and European interference as a means to control the oil in the Middle East. This should serve as a lesson for Trinidad’s energy exploration.
Primary Resources: Eric Williams’s History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago, and Bridget Bereton’s An Introduction to the History of Trinidad and Tobago.
Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq. is a trial-winning business and trademark attorney. She primarily helps new and small businesses with trademarks, formation, and name clearance searches. She writes articles on the importance of trademarks, trademark law updates, and also West Indian history (with an emphasis on India, Trinidad, Guyana, and the United States).
MDGR Law, P.A.
PO Box 101794 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33310-1794