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Trinidad Eyes Increased Global LNG Re-Exports with Venezuela Natural Gas
As the major LNG exporting country adapts to declining domestic production, the government of Trinidad and Tobago is exploring options to import natural gas from neighboring countries in order to re-export it to the global market, and in particular, Europe.
One of the most viable options, according to Trinidadian officials, could be tapping ample Venezuelan natural gas supplies now sanctioned by the United States and its allies.
“In the longer term, gas may be available from Guyana and Suriname, but the most immediate source of natural gas would be from neighboring Venezuela,” the Energy Chamber of Trinidad said last month. “Exporting gas from Venezuela to Trinidad by pipeline to put through the Atlantic facility for onward delivery to international markets is, however, constrained by the economic sanctions placed on Venezuela.”
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Venezuela could begin exporting commercial volumes of natural gas by way of neighboring Trinidad and Tobago within a relatively short timeframe if U.S. sanctions on Venezuela are relaxed, according to IPD Latin America’s David Voght, managing director.
“Our assessment is that within three years, Venezuela could be producing enough to supply Trinidad’s Atlantic LNG Train 1, at about 3.3 tons per annum,” Voght said during a webinar hosted by Florida International University’s Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy. This translates to about 434 MMcf/d.
Train 1 at the liquefied natural gas export facility has been sitting idle since 2020 amid declining production in Trinidad, a major supplier of LNG to the global market.
The United States reportedly is considering easing sanctions to some degree, in order to curb an exodus of Venezuelan migrants and replace Russian energy supplies that have been removed from the market.
“Some people are saying the United States is considering lifting sanctions…That’s not true,” Voght said. “There’s going to be no lifting of sanctions. What there is hopefully going to be is a recalibration of sanctions.”
He explained that the sanctions’ main objective – a transition to democracy in Venezuela – “has yet to materialize,” and that continued international pressure on Venezuela’s economy and oil sector “could cause more harm than good.”
He cited the deterioration of Venezuela’s oil and gas infrastructure, and increased risk of accidents and spills, as consequences of the sanctions regime.
Resurrecting Venezuela’s exploration and production sector after a near total collapse over the last few years would require the private sector’s participation, Voght said.
He noted that the private sector is involved in joint ventures that are currently producing around 50% of Venezuelan crude.
Amid mismanagement at state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), Venezuela’s oil production plummeted from 2.85 million b/d in 2013 when President Nicolas Maduro took office to about 400,000 b/d in July 2020.
Production has since recovered to nearly 700,000 b/d as of September, Voght noted.
Venezuela boasts around 200 Tcf of proven natural gas reserves, and produced about 2.3 Bcf/d of natural gas in 2021, according to OPEC.
Under the scenario envisioned by IPD to supply gas to Trinidad, supply would come from “both the Dragon offshore field and through gas collection in the northeastern part of the country,” Voght said. “I think this is a great opportunity to look at ways to…pivot the Maduro administration to the West…The potential to supply energy to the Atlantic Basin is very interesting…”
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