The United States has granted an amendment requested by the government of Trinidad and Tobago to a license allowing the joint development of an offshore gas project with Venezuela, the Caribbean country's Energy Minister Stuart Young said on Tuesday.
The amendment would allow payments in hard currency or in kind to Venezuela for any gas supplied by state-run oil company PDVSA, Young said.
The Dragon field, which lies in Venezuelan waters near the maritime border with Trinidad, holds up to 4.2 trillion cubic feet of gas. Trinidad needs the fuel to boost its liquefied natural gas (LNG) and petrochemical industries, and Venezuela hopes to have access to cash flow from gas exports.
"(The amendment) allows us to make payments in fiat currency, as well as U.S. dollars, bolivars and via humanitarian measures," Young said about the changes to the license, issued by the U.S. Treasury Department in January.
The changes in the license also extend the time from the original two years to two years and 10 months, with a new expiration date of Oct. 31, 2025, Young said.
The amendment also allows Shell, which would operate the Dragon project, and Trinidad's National Gas Company to negotiate all that is required to bring Venezuelan gas to Trinidad, clearing the way for talks about other potential sources of gas from Venezuela, Young told reporters in a press conference.
Trinidad has the capacity to produce more LNG and petrochemicals. All it needed is access to additional supplies, Young said.
Venezuela's government and the opposition on Tuesday signed in Barbados a detailed agreement on conditions for a presidential election in the second half of 2024, including free participation of all candidates and international observation. The pact could open the doors to further sanction easing by the United States.
(Reuters - Reporting by Curtis Williams and Marianna Parraga in Houston; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)