By Manuel Holguin
Hon. Stuart Young, the Minister of Energy for the twin-republic of Trinidad and Tobago, spoke to CNN about how the southernmost island country in the Caribbean could contribute to the ongoing world crisis of energy during the ongoing Russia and Ukraine conflict. Speaking with Richard Quest, Young sounded self-assured and willing to contribute. “We have been a significant gas producer, [and] energy producer, for the last few decades,” said Young. “We are eager to step in to assist in what is going on globally,” he answered when Quest asked how Trinidad and Tobago could help Europe and others.
Known for its fossil-fuel wealth, Trinidad and Tobago is the leading Caribbean oil and gas producer, and its economy is heavily dependent on these resources. One of the largest producers of liquefied natural gas producers in the world, the government plans to ramp up its production level in the coming years.
Europe and other countries attempt to wean off their dependency on Russian energy as the Russian war on Ukraine continues in Eastern Europe. But the plan to ban all purchases of Russian oil by the end of the year may not come as easy for Europe as it did for the United States. The U.S. was able to cut ties with Russian imports because of its domestic energy infrastructure and banned all imports from Russia on March 8. As European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen plans to ban all energy imports, she is due to run into issues regarding natural gas. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) report, about 45% of the EU’s gas imports in 2021 and nearly 40% of its total gas consumption flowed from Russia.
“How does the world wean itself off Russian oil and gas?” Quest asked for Young’s opinion on the matter. Voicing his support for renewable energy, Young still sees gas as the cleanest hydrocarbon possible and believes the EU and others should consider getting it from other countries, like Trinidad and Tobago. In March, the IEA proposed a 10-Point Plan of immediate actions to lessen the EU’s dependence on Russian natural gas. One of the points outlines that accelerating the deployment of new wind and solar projects will increase the EU’s output from these renewable sources.
A question Quest failed to ask Young was whether Trinidad and Tobago would be capable of meeting a demand for energy like the one the EU has. Atlantic, one of the world’s largest producers of Liquefied Natural Gas, operates in fields around Trinidad and Tobago. Located in Point Fortin, on the coast of Trinidad, runs a four-train liquefaction facility owned by a holding company comprised of different member companies, BP, Shell, NGC, and CIC.
In mid-2021, Atlantic closed train one indefinitely due to a feed gas shortage, eliminating 20% of the facility’s capacity. Claims made that train one will never restart have been contested by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley. Currently, there is no word when or if train one will ever bring online again. Young says Trinidad and Tobago is eager to step in to assist. Hopefully, they can.