The Evolution of the Dragon Gas Supply: Maduro, Venezuela, Russia and T&T
The government of T&T insisted repeatedly in the public domain that it’s seeking the supply of a daily volume of natural gas from Venezuela which Maduro and PDVSA has insisted will not be supplied fully by the Dragon field of the Mariscal Sucre Project situated offshore north of the Paria Peninsula, Sucre state, Venezuela. The T&T government then stated repeatedly that as the Patao and Mejillones fields of the Mariscal Sucre Project developed gas will be sold to T&T from these fields to satisfy the daily gas supply sought by the T&T government. But Maduro and PDVSA are yet to publicly affirm this position via a public supply agreement. Silence then is now the word on the said gas supply from Venezuela as the visit of Maduro to T&T to sign off on the supply deal is yet to materialise as at December 18, 2017. But Maduro has issued statements from Venezuela and on his foreign travels citing the gas supply deal with T&T as the prime example of Maduro’s embrace of the Caribbean and his new gas driven direction for Venezuela’s energy economy where gas exports via pipelines or as LNG is the new frontier. In these statements the daily gas supply designated for T&T is in line with the daily volume stated by the T&T government in public which means that gas from the Patao and Mejillones fields are in the agreement or what T&T desires will be drawn from the production of the Dragon field. What was clear on Maduro’s pronouncements on the gas supply deal with T&T both local and foreign is that T&T was now his bitch as he has us by the short and curly. In fact, the gas supply agreement with T&T was repeatedly cited by Maduro both local and foreign as the prime indicator of Venezuela’s intent on becoming a reliable gas supplier to its neighbours under the new gas economy. The T&T gas supply arrangement with Venezuela is cited by Maduro as an indicator of his legitimacy as President of Venezuela. Then there was word from Miraflores but we don’t know if that word was in fact accurate or fake news that Maduro had in fact signed off on the gas supply agreement but from the T&T government there is only silence.
On December 17, 2017 the play T&T was now caught in became clearer as Maduro met with Igor Sechin CEO of PJSC NK Rosneft in Venezuela where licences were authorised for Group Rosneft a subsidiary of NK Rosneft to explore and develop the non-associated gas reserves of the Patao and Mejillones fields of the Mariscal Sucre Project. Group Rosneft is authorised by these licences to be the operator of the project and to export all production of these fields as pipeline gas and/or LNG with Group Rosneft and PDVSA each holding 50% of the equity of the project. This event in Venezuela puts in train the Heads of Agreement signed with NK Rosneft in 2016. Russia in the house! T&T in its quest for gas from the Patao and Mejillones fields as of December 17, 2017 now has to dance with NK Rosneft and Putin.
The quest for gas from Venezuela has now sucked T&T into a geopolitical quagmire as gas from a Group Rosneft/PDVSA entity raises the issue of the impact of US sanctions on Russia and Venezuela and how it impacts the conduct of business with Rosneft and PDVSA by T&T entities. Can sanctions placed on Russia by the US be applied to products manufactured from gas sourced from the Rosneft/PDVSA entity in T&T exported to US markets? To step back from embracing Rosneft produced gas can have blow-back on the Dragon supply as the pipeline can slowly go dry. As a step back is a rejection of the business and political model of the gas supplier across the Gulf. Whilst dancing according to the rules of the gas supplier across the Gulf invites the push back from the hegemon in the room summed up in the person of the Donald. Possibly this is the aim of the Maduro dragon dance: to marginalise a geopolitical threat at the underbelly of Venezuela? Consider that in light of the oil play offshore Guyana at present.
T&T is between a rock and a very hard place as we have inadvertently entered a geopolitical game of thrones because of the failure of all ruling politicians of T&T to police the natural resources of T&T to ensure supply that serves the interests of T&T not that of the globalised transnationals. We failed miserably to learn from the Norwegian model. We are now a pawn in a geopolitical battle for regime survival vs regime change powerless to impact and determine the outcome of the game. A pawn to be played to the strategic benefit of the warring parties only. A geopolitical fiasco of our own making. The Dragon will dance on all of us in T&T!