Trinidad’s energy minister to begin talks on gas deal in Caracas

Trinidad’s energy minister to begin talks on gas deal in Caracas

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CARACAS/PORT OF SPAIN — Trinidad and Tobago’s energy minister met Venezuelan officials on Monday, according to Venezuela’s state media, the first high-level visit since the United States last month green-lighted the joint development of a key offshore gas project.

The Caribbean country’s Prime Minister Keith Rowley last week told the Parliament that his government was in touch with Venezuela following a U.S. license for the Dragon field, and that the first meetings to begin negotiations had been set up.

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Trinidad’s minister Stuart Young on Monday met Venezuela’s Vice President Delcy Rodriguez and oil minister Tareck El Aissami, according to a video broadcasted by state TV. Details of the minister’s agenda have not been revealed.

Even though the two-year license authorizes companies from Trinidad to do business with U.S-sanctioned state oil firm PDVSA, the terms of a set of agreements signed in 2018 by Trinidad and Venezuela must be renegotiated in order to progress on specific contracts, according to sources close to the talks.

Trinidad, who since 2020 has a liquefaction train idled due to a low gas output, has in recent years been eager to secure other sources of gas to boost processing, production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for exports and petrochemical output.

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Venezuela’s Dragon field, operated by PDVSA, which has remained inactive for over a decade after submarine equipment was installed and successful production tests were made, is an ideal source of gas until Trinidad can bring its planned new offshore output online.

Shell Plc, which operates a neighboring gas project in Trinidad, could also operate Dragon if Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government extends it a license.

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A Shell spokesperson last week said the company is a potential participant under the U.S. authorization that enables Trinidad and Tobago to “reengage in work on the Dragon Project.” (Reporting by Deisy Buitrago in Caracas and Curtis Williams in Port of Spain; writing by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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