Two Opposition MPs have criticised Energy Minister Stuart Young for his remarks on a CNN news show where he said TT had the capacity to contribute to global gas supplies, and that citizens here “have a good life.”
Young was a guest on journalist Michael Quest’s Quest means business news show on Tuesday which dealt with the economic fallout of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. TT was identified by Quest as one of the gas-producing countries that was listed as possible alternative sources of supply to Russian natural gas.
Young said TT was “ramping up” its production and was ready to offset any shortfall in global supply.
“So how does the rest of the world and in particular Europe deal with its current energy crisis? They have to look at where there is an alternative supply, and hey! TT is one of those places,” he said. He also said government would use increased revenue from higher prices for natural gas to “pay bills,” as well as on education, and “other things that are necessary for the people of TT.”
“The government uses its revenue to look after 1.4 million people who, quite frankly have a good life,” he said.
In statements Wednesday, Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee and Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein took issue with what Young said.
Citing major shortfalls in natural gas production, Lee said Young was “either living in a fantasy world or wilfully deceived the international community on the state of affairs in the energy industry.”
“Minister Young’s statement that this country was ramping up gas production to meet the needs of the global community was not only a proven lie but it was a brazen attempt to mislead the international community given this nation is actually experiencing the worst natural gas production in decades,” he said.
In February, last year, Finance Minister Colm Imbert also cited shortfalls in production as one of the reasons government had reduced income from taxes from energy companies prompting the government to take drawdowns from the Heritage Stabilisation Fund.
Last December, the Ryder Scott report revealed declines in recoverable gas in TT, noting that 56 per cent of volume replacement in proven gas fields was achieved in 2020 as compared to 113 per cent in 2019.
Even Young during a virtual presentation of the audit, said there was a decline in proven reserves, from 10.7 trillion cubic feet (tcf) in 2019 to 10.2 tcf in 2020.
The declines however were attributed to covid19 and its impact on the oil and gas industry.
Even as projects such as bpTT’s Cassia C field was expected to achieve first gas and deliver more than a quarter billion standard cubic feet at the beginning of this year, setbacks caused further delays, with production due to come on stream at the end of 2022.
“Get real Minister Young,” Lee said. “This Government doesn’t even have gas for the national economy. It is even more shameful that Minister Young wants to boast about LNG production when this nation suffered a 48.6 per cent drop in LNG production in the third quarter of 2021. If the energy sector was so fruitful as Minister Young painted, maybe he should have told CNN why fuel prices were increased and the subsidy cut. If the energy sector was so vibrant as Minister Young told CNN, maybe he should have told Quest why some energy companies are moving all operations to Guyana.”
Hosein knocked Young’s statement that people here have a good life, describing it as “totally out of touch with the reality of what is happening in TT.”
“The only people having a good life that minister young is talking about are the friends, family and financiers of the PNM,” he said.
“When cabinet ministers could recuse themselves 210 times from Cabinet because of conflicts of interest they are the ones who seem to have a good life in TT. When single mothers in this country cannot afford milk and pampers for their children and have no devices to get an education, they are not the ones with a good life.”