T&T’s deep water blocks in context

To-date all nine of the deep water blocks awarded in T&T has BHP Billiton as the operator of these blocks. The two deep water blocks awarded to BP ended up with BP giving up operatorship for these two blocks to BHP Billiton when BP embraced a minority ownership position in both blocks. BP has then voted with its feet on the investability of deep water T&T. Whilst in the Gulf of Mexico acreage of the US BP placed 24 bids of USD 41.63 million to acquire blocks in the western margins. BP is then a gas company in T&T but in the US acreages of the Gulf of Mexico it is an oil company. The question therefore arises again on the monetisation of T&T gas in light of the US shale gas revolution. The only viable answer is gas based industrialisation but is BP interested in such investment in T&T? In response to cheaper and abundant US shale gas Exxon Mobil is presently engaged in the process of expanding and creating new capacity for olefin production with shale gas as the feedstock in the US. Can T&T compete in this environment save and except by giving away our gas? In the bidding for western Gulf of Mexico BHP Billiton placed 14 bids with a value of USD 21.8 million whilst Chevron Corporation placed 5 bids with a value of USD 25.7 million and Conoco Philips placed 10 bids with a value of USD 23.4 million. Clearly BHP Billiton is hoping to acquire acreage cheaply compared to Chevron which indicates the pedigree of BHP Billiton in the exploration and production of energy in the Gulf of Mexico. Presently BHP Billiton operates two blocks in the Gulf of Mexico: Neptune and Shenzi and these two deep water blocks sum up the deep water operational experience of the company in its world operations. This same company now operates 9 deep water blocks in T&T. BP was the only company with wide ranging experience and expertise in multiple deep water domains to have held blocks in deep water T&T and now that is no more. BHP Billiton is the company that reported to the world daily oil production figures for the Angostura block which were subsequently falsified by the intricate geology of Trinidad resulting in a daily oil production that is a shadow today of the figures originally given. But the potent question is how does BHP Billiton intend to monetise the gas it discovers in the deep margins? Maybe an aluminium smelter? Why invest in a methanol plant in T&T and not in the US especially when the investors are citizens of a country that has a free trade agreement with the US and the price of US shale gas is competitive? The only logical answer is that you expect to acquire T&T gas feedstock at a lower price than what obtains for US supply. To then sing the praises of having a methanol plant built in T&T for political purposes of voter mobilisation do we cut our national throats? Over to the Ministry of Energy Propaganda.

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