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Trinidad and Tobago to Diversify LNG Exports

Trinidad and Tobago, the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the United States, is expanding exports to other countries while it seeks foreign investment in facilities that would produce downstream products.

Neil Parsan, Trinidad's newly appointed ambassador to the U.S., told industry leaders at the Natural Gas Roundtable Luncheon in Washington, DC, on Monday that several countries -- including Chile, Brazil and Canada -- represented "very new destinations for [our] energy cargoes.

"While the United States continues to be our prime market [for LNG], there has been a concerted effort to diversify our markets in order to ensure optimum value in revenue for the [Trinidadian] state," Parsan said. "Given the commercialization of large shale gas resources in the U.S., and the consequence of gas prices, we are being careful not to put all of our energy eggs in one basket."

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. imported 431 bcf of LNG in 2010, a 4.6% decline from the previous year, and the second-lowest annual volume for LNG imports since 2002. The EIA said Trinidad was the largest contributor of LNG imports at 189.7 bcf in 2010. Meanwhile, the Trinidadian government said the country produced 3.9 bcf/d of natural gas in 2009, and LNG production capacity totaled 15 million tons.

Asked about the effects of the U.S. one day exporting LNG, Parsan said, "I know it has been discussed in our capital, and when a clear position has been pronunciated you will be so informed." On a related follow-up question, the ambassador said he was unaware of comments by government officials in Port-of-Spain that they want to renegotiate long-term LNG contracts.

Sabine Pass Liquefaction LLC is applying for a permit with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to add a new liquefaction operation to its LNG terminal in Cameron Parish, LA. The proposed facility, when completed, could export approximately 2.2 Bcf/d on average over the course of a year (see Daily GPI, March 8, Jan. 21).

Parsan said the Natural Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago (NGC) is looking to help other nations develop their gas resources, specifically mentioning Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Canada, the U.S., Venezuela and the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM), of which Trinidad is a member.

"We've been used as a model for countries which are now in the infancy of developing their gas industries," Parsan said. "NGC has recently been selected as a partner with the government of Ghana to develop and implement a project for transporting, processing and distributing natural gas to existing facilities. Our participation in Ghana will also serve to create a transnational model for midstream and energy services development that can be used by anyone in the world. It is a source of national pride that today NGC [officials] are flying all over the world."

Parsan said his government was looking to welcome foreign investors for a US$2.5 million complex to manufacture glass and solar cells, as well as other downstream products.

"Over the years our country has been host to some of the world's largest energy-based investments," he said.

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