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Venezuela gas a lifeline for Atlantic LNG Train 1

■ Curtis Williams

ATLANTIC LNG's Train 1 could be given a lifeline with both the US approval for gas to come to T&T from Venezuela's Dragon field and production from the cross-border, Manatee field, predicts Prof Andrew Jupiter.

Jupiter, who for decades was involved in cross-border negotiations with the Venezuelans, said the deal opens up hundreds of millions of standard cubic feet of gas per day (mmscf/d) coming to T&T to support industries at Point Lisas and the LNG plants in Point Fortin.

'I have been in cross-border negotiation since 1987 when I went with then-prime minister ANR Robinson to Caracas to sign the delimitation treaty with Venezuela. I say this to tell you that whether it was the NAR, PNM or UNC governments, we have all worked on this and to see the major stumbling block to cross-border gas being removed and the possibility of gas coming to T&T from Venezuela is a great moment and I have to commend Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and his government for getting it done.' said Jupiter, who is Professor of Practice, Petroleum Engineering, at the St Augustine campus of The University of the West Indies.

Major boost

Admitting there were stil a lot of legal hurdles to get past, Jupiter said the important thing is the gas is proven and when combined with Manatee could be a major boost to the country's strugggling production.

'We are talking here about well over half a billion standard cubic feet of gas per day getting here by 2027. That will certainly open the door to train 1 returning to production of LNG.' Jupiter posited.

Atlantic LNG has been mothballed since 2020 because of a shortage of natural gas. The present restructuring of Atlantic LNG does not include Train 1 but rather Train's II, III and IV. Even with only three trains in operation, Atlantic's CEO Ronald Admas admitted that the plants are only running at 70 per cent of their capacity.

Jupiter said that many people are unaware there is as much as 10 tcf of proven reserves in fields that are located close to the border with T&T and signficant possibilities for low pressure gas to flow to T&T from the Bolivarian Republic.

With respect to the Dragon field, Jupiter said a lot of the technical work has already been done on the field and he thinks it could be produced from T&T using subsea wells. He was full of praise for Shell for coming back to T&T and suggested that Shell saw the opportunity to capitalise on T&T's relationship with Venezuela and its cross-border potential to re-enter this country.

'I believe that Shell, as it always does, plans for 25 years and I think it was not by accident that it bought the interest in Atlantic to become the single largest shareholder and also it bought BG and it is involved with the government with this project. Shell would not invest its money unless it can get a return and unless it has sound legal backing for what it is doing. So I am very happy that we are partnering with Shell on this project.'

Jupiter said there was also no issue with respect to the financing of the project with the NGC already expcted to spend at least $1 billion on the pipeline.

He said, 'I think it was in 2018 that the Finance Minister announced that the NGC had set aside $1 billion to fund the project and therefore there is already a budget in place for it.'

Energy sources said NGC will have to build a pipline to connect with Shell's pipeline that runs from the Hibiscus platform to Atlantic LNG in order to get the gas to the petrochemical plants.

Jupiter said he was confident that the country has the legal and negotiating teams to ensure it gets the best benefit from the cross-border gas with several scholarship winners on the team and high-quality consultants.

'A GREAT MOMENT': Professor of Practice at the St Augustine campus of The University of the West Indies Andrew Jupiter.

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