Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname are on the verge of forging closer energy ties, based on discussions between officials of the two Caribbean Community (Caricom) member states.
President Chandrikapersad Santokhi and Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Energy Stuart Young have held extensive discussions about a potential energy collaboration on the sidelines of the second Suriname Energy, Oil and Gas Summit & Exhibition (SEOGS), which ended on Tuesday.
Young said serious consideration will be given to how to intensify cooperation between the two countries, saying that “the oil and gas industry is one of the important areas to enter into a partnership”.
Trinidad and Tobago is the largest producer of oil and gas in the Caribbean. These natural resources account for about 40 per cent of the country’s GDP and 80 per cent of its exports.
Recent growth has been fuelled by investments in liquefied natural gas, with the twin-island republic transitioning from an oil to a natural gas-based economy.
Suriname’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and International Cooperation Albert Ramdin said Suriname could learn from Trinidad’s expertise.
“We discussed bilateral cooperation in general and cooperation in the field of energy, with a view to developments in the Surinamese oil and gas sector. We want to respond immediately,” he said, noting that T&T is a strong player in the oil and gas industry.
“We can learn from this and work together. The talks will continue next week when the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago will also be in Suriname to attend the Caricom Heads of Government Meeting.”
In his address during the SEOGS, Ramdin said the oil, and gas industries were important sectors for the Suriname economy that will contribute significantly to the socio-economic development of the country in a sustainable way.
“Visionary leadership is needed to create the spin-offs of cost-effective gas-based energy generation, such as new industrial complexes that will guarantee the continuity of food production, for example. And that leadership is there,” he said, identifying the host President and his Guyanese counterpart Irfaan Ali among those with the leadership qualities and vision to take both countries to the next level.
On Monday, also on the sidelines of the conference, local State-owned energy companies, Heritage Petroleum and Paria Fuel Trading signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Staatsolie Maatschappij Suriname N.V, the state-owned Suriname energy company.
The MoU establishes a framework for cooperation among three of the top state-owned energy companies in the Caribbean region.
Energy Minister Stuart Young, who was at the signing,affirmed the opportunities for collaboration among the MoU parties.
“As Caricom partners, Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname will work together to address the challenges to develop our energy sectors as well as those of our region. Our countries have an important role to play in energy security for the region. I look forward to a fruitful relationship and I am pleased that discussions have already commenced among the parties,” said Young.
Under the MoU, the Parties agreed to enter into discussions related to identifying mutually beneficial partnership opportunities under three broad areas- Exploration and Production (E&P); Trading and Marketing; and Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG).