ENERGY Chamber chairman Dwight Mahabir says while the energy sector is going through a challenging period, he called on his membership not to give up the struggle.

He revealed this at the chamber’s first policy forum with the Ministry of Energy yesterday which was held virtually.

Mahabir, who was re-elected as chairman of the chamber for a second term, said many members of the chamber are nervous about the future as some had not recovered from the 2015 oil price crash, when they were hit by the global pandemic in 2020.

“While the stakeholders have been struggling to stay afloat for two years, there has been a massive shift in sentiment against fossil fuels, in the international capital markets. We now have some of the major energy companies committing to reducing their hydrocarbon production. Most people will agree that the challenges we face are daunting,” the chairman lamented.

Mahabir said, despite this gloomy outlook, the Energy Chamber is confident that local companies can be successful in the industry in the future.

“Challenges might be daunting, but we firmly believe that as a country and industry we are up to the challenge. We believe that over the next two decades we can decarbonise the energy sector and still generate significant wealth for the country and the wider region. This country has the skills to make this happen and succeed.”

He told Energy Minister Stuart Young that many things need to be done differently.

“We need to create the right policy environment for the changes to take place and we need to make timely decisions and move quickly and intelligently.”

Mahabir emphasised that there must be some items that the energy sector needs to get right, and implement in the next few years, or the opportunity to reap the benefits will simply pass us by.

“These items include getting more natural gas field sanctions on existing acreage, aggressively getting after oil reserves and cutting emissions. There are other things that would take longer to implement, but we have to start work now, including the development of a hydrogen economy, the transition to renewable energy for most of our electricity generation.

“Along with the decarbonisation of our LNG production and the shift to electric vehicles and mass transit,” he explained.

The energy chairman stressed that to cover all of this work there is going to be a need for speed and the ability to take decisions quickly, which means there needs to be a great focus on the ease of doing business and making the approval process much more efficient.

“We will make our mistakes along the way but every entrepreneur knows it is better to make your mistakes quickly and learn your lessons fast,” Mahabir added.

Collaboration

Energy Minister Stuart Young, before delving into the matters at hand, announced that his ministry now has a second permanent secretary, Sandra Fraser, who will help things process faster from the ministry’s level.

Young told the chamber chairman and members that he understood their anxiety as everything in the energy industry is transitioning. But he quickly added that there was no need to panic.

“Let’s work together, let’s do what is necessary. And the truth is, hydrocarbons are here to stay, for decades to come. In Trinidad and Tobago, we shifted decades ago to becoming more of a gas-based energy sector and gas is the main driver of our hydrocarbon industry. Gas is here to stay. I ask all of you to get on board with that conversation and don’t panic or get anxious. This country has a place at the global table.”

Young said he has heard all the concerns expressed and will work on implementing policies to push the energy sector in the right direction.

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