We are fully aware that hydrocarbons resources are finite, and it is imperative to focus on the development and use of renewable energy in Trinidad and Tobago.

Vernon PALTOO President NATIONAL ENERGY CORPORATION

Trinidad and Tobago’s energy evolution

August 16, 2017

Vernon Paltoo, National Energy Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (National Energy) president, talks to TOGY about the company’s future objectives and projects on the horizon. Incorporated in 1979, National Energy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the state-owned National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (NGC).

NEC is responsible for the facilitation of gas based projects and the provision of marine logistics and port operations and estate site development at Point Lisas, Union/La Brea and Galeota. Paltoo also discusses the rise of renewables in Trinidad and Tobago through the potential construction of a solar park.

• ON THE LOSS OF ANGELIN: “While it will have an impact, I am of the firm opinion that our fabrication yard at La Brea will continue to be competitive for platform construction. We will need to work with the key stakeholders to be able to offer a value proposition to potential parties such as BPTT. However, this will be an ongoing exercise, and we strongly believe that platform construction will continue Trinidad and Tobago.”

• ON OPERATING IN GUYANA: “National Energy will support the emerging energy sector in Guyana through our maritime vessels, logistics services and ports. Guyana currently does not have the appropriate port infrastructure to adequately support offshore oil and gas operations. As such, many of the companies that conduct their business in Guyana have approached us to secure space and services at our ports.”

Paltoo goes on to discuss the lessons learned from the ongoing gas shortages evinced by the implementation of projects that use little or no natural gas. Most TOGY interviews are published exclusively on our business intelligence platform TOGYiN, but you can find the full interview with Vernon Paltoo below.

What objectives has National Energy set for development in 2017-2018?
Our development programme will focus on the four strategic pillars of the NGC Group, which are to develop the organisation, secure its current business, expand our business locally and internationally and strengthen our national contribution.
Our activities span two key areas: new energy and natural gas-based project development and facilitation and infrastructural development and commercial business. We have developed specific projects that are in line with the trends in the sector and the realities of [the] local and international economic situations. Our investment facilitation has involved the provision of ports, piers and gas-based industrial site development. In the future, we will seek projects that are less reliant on natural gas as well as those that can be sustained with minimal quantities of natural gas.
Internally, we are ensuring that our operational businesses are efficient and cost-effective. At the same time, we are building and leveraging our experience and capacities to move forward, as a national company growing beyond the shores of Trinidad and Tobago.
Our strategic focus is to optimise our assets in a manner that can benefit our customers, National Energy, NGC and the country. We are also in the midst of an organisational restructuring process, as is the case for other the companies within the group. This will ensure our adaption to the current economic environment.

What hydrocarbons-related projects is the National Energy developing?
We are currently developing a project that would use methanol to make polyolefins such as polyethylene and polypropylene. This project would utilise minimal amounts of natural gas, but generate the benefits associated with the industry. We anticipate that this project, with an estimated capital investment of USD 1.5 billion, would reach a final investment decision in 2018.

How will the National Energy accomplish its goal of making commercial business more operationally-effective and cost-efficient?
We are assessing and streamlining all of our port facilities. At present, we are aligning ports in Galeota, La Brea and Point Lisas to ensure that there are harmonised operating practices and procedures, as well as cost structures and efficiencies. We are looking at the processes to ensure this objective is completed in the most efficient manner. In this regard, we are also entering into various types of partnerships with international logistics providers and port operators to bring best practices and improved operability to our facilities.

 

Are there any plans to further expand the Port of Galeota to better meet the needs of the industry?
The current design draught at Galeota is 7.6 metres, however, it must be increased to 12.8 metres to realise full commercial benefits. As such, we are planning to expand the port to that depth in a second phase. This will entail a new facility adjacent to the existing one, and construction is expected to start in 2018. In this regard, we are exploring the public-private partnership concept in order to provide the estimated USD 130 million capital expenditure, required for phase 2.

What is the status of the Caribbean Gas Chemical (CGCL) project?
CGCL is using the La Brea Industrial Estate (LABIDCO) and our Brighton Port and associated infrastructure to facilitate the construction and operation of their methanol plant. Berth 2 at LABIDCO was rebuilt to facilitate the CGCL project, as well as allow for the loading out of the Juniper platform, which was recently completed by BPTT [BP Trinidad and Tobago] as one of the largest platforms to be fabricated in the country to date.

What is the impact of BPTT’s Angelin platform being built outside of Trinidad and Tobago?
While it will have an impact, I am of the firm opinion that our fabrication yard at La Brea will continue to be competitive for platform construction. We will need to work with the key stakeholders to be able to offer a value proposition to potential parties such as BPTT. However, this will be an ongoing exercise, and we strongly believe that platform construction will continue Trinidad and Tobago.

How will National Energy support Guyanese businesses?
National Energy will support the emerging energy sector in Guyana through our maritime vessels, logistics services and ports. Guyana currently does not have the appropriate port infrastructure to adequately support offshore oil and gas operations. As such, many of the companies that conduct their business in Guyana have approached us to secure space and services at our ports. We have been actively engaging with businesses working in Guyana, including the Guyanese government and petroleum operators, in order to actively market our services and expertise.

Is National Energy working on any renewables projects?
National Energy is certainly working on the development of renewable energy projects. One of the prime projects that we are currently pursuing is the development of an integrated Solar Park production facility. This solar park consists of four integrated plants: a metallurgical silicon plant, polysilicon plant, a float glass plant, and a photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing plant.
Integration of these plants will create significant economic benefits for potential investors. We have all the required infrastructure, human resources, as well as the access to market and raw materials needed to facilitate this project. At this point, we are currently engaging potential partners and investors.
The solar market is very different from the energy commodity market or the petrochemical market. Thus, the project calls for a different approach in terms of marketing and development. While it is an integrated PV manufacturing plant, it would be structured in such a way that if an investor is interested in one to two segments of the four plants, we can still follow through and back integrate in the future. The capital investment estimated for this project is USD 1.2 billion and we aim to have potential investors on board by the end of 2017.

What markets will this solar project impact?
This plant would be looking to cater to the Caribbean and South American markets. That being said, the local market is very important as well. Overall, it is significant in view of the country’s drive towards renewable energy. We are fully aware that hydrocarbons resources are finite, and it is imperative to focus on the development and use of renewable energy in Trinidad and Tobago.
The potential benefits to this type of project are comparable to those of the large integrated petrochemical energy projects, in terms of the number of jobs created, GDP contribution and spin-off industries.

What strategy is the company employing to accomplish its goals?
Our vision is in line with the NGC’s overall vision to be able to build and develop sustainable energy industries. We believe that we have successfully adapted during this challenging time. We have put measures and systems in place to be able to withstand and emerge from the current economic situation, so as to grow not only National Energy, but also NGC, and the country, which is in-line with our mandate.

For more information on NEC in Trinidad and Tobago, including the company’s upcoming USD 1.5-billion polyolefins plant, see our business intelligence platform, TOGYiN.
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