Trinidad Soon to Decide on Deepwater Gas Exploration Auction Bids

Reuters
Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Trinidad and Tobago's Cabinet will make a decision soon on bids submitted for four deepwater exploration blocks that are key to expanding its natural gas production, Energy Minister Stuart Young said. 

The Caribbean country earlier this year offered 17 blocks off the northern and eastern coasts in a competitive auction that attracted only four bids - all from a consortium of its existing operators. New gas supplies are urgently needed to boost the country's liquefied natural gas (LNG) production.  

“The bids have come in, the evaluation teams have done their work, and the Ministry of Energy is going to the Cabinet with a recommendation,” Young told Reuters. "We have slipped a little bit on that time frame, (but) the evaluation is over."

The government originally had hoped to announce winners for the deepwater blocks in September but was delayed. Young, who spoke to Reuters last week, did not say when the Cabinet would make its decision.  

Young's comments came days after the newly named head of BP's Trinidad and Tobago operation called for officials to speed up their evaluation.  

David Campbell, the BP executive, told a meeting of energy executives earlier this month that BP needs to access deepwater fields for future output. BP is going to add 300 million cubic feet per day to its existing 1.298 billion cubic feet per day this quarter, Campbell said, but the new production is low-pressure gas that signals the existing basin is declining.    

The four bids were submitted by a consortium of BP Plc and Shell Plc, already the country's major gas producers and co-owners with state-owned National Gas Company in its Atlantic LNG export facility. 

Trinidad is Latin America's largest LNG exporter, with capacity to process 4.2 billion cubic feet per day into LNG, petrochemicals, and power. But its gas production is just under 3 billion cubic feet per day.

BP has operated in the near-shore Columbus basin for over 50 years and has discovered more than 2 billion barrels of oil and 25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas during that time.

"We do need to start now looking into the deepwater, bringing that forward as far as we possibly can," Campbell said this month. "We are now looking forward to those being accelerated toward a decision." 

BP's Trinidad and Tobago operation has been one of the best-performing producing assets in BP’s global operations in 2022, said Campbell. 

(Reporting by Reuters Port of Spain newsroom; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Categories: Deepwater Drilling Industry News Caribbean Activity Regulations

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