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NGC signs agreement with China

By Sasha Harrinanan in Beijing, China Monday, February 24 2014

The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago (NGC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Chinese company, ENN Group, for the provision of advice to help ensure the successful implementation of NGC’s five-year, TT $500 million, compressed natural gas (CNG) conversion plan

The MoU was signed by NGC Chairman, Roopchan Chadeesingh and ENN Group President, Cheung Yipsang, late yesterday afternoon during a simple ceremony at the Grand Hyatt Beijing hotel, Oriental Plaza, Beijing, China. Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine was on-hand to witness the event.

ENN Group, one of China’s largest private companies, was established in Hebei Province, China in 1989 and is now often referred to as a clean-energy expert.

Speaking with reporters following the MoU signing, Chadeesingh explained why NGC and the Energy Ministry considered it necessary to seek ENN’s help.

“It’s more than 30 years now that TT has been trying to get drivers to convert from diesel and gasoline to CNG. ENN operates out of Langfang City (in Hebei Province), which has a population of four million people, and they have been successful in getting the drivers there to convert to using CNG.”

“They have the capacity, the know-how,” he added, “so we are looking forward to (benefitting) from ENN’s experience and technology. We have invited them to assess our facilities in TT, to advise us on what is required to introduce this programme successfully.”

The experience referred to by Chadeesingh was expanded upon by Cheung, who explained that China’s increasing use of CNG came about as the result of two major infrastructure projects completed within the last 11 years.

“We had a project called “Transmitting the Gas from West to East,” which was completed in 2003. Only then did China start to make a lot of use of natural gas. (Then) China built many LNG terminals along the coastal area because consumption of natural gas had increased at an annual rate of about ten percent. Over the last 13 years, the percentage of natural gas in our energy mix increased from two percent to 5.3 percent.”

Cheung also said ENN, which has more than 15 years of experience operating CNG and liquified natural gas (LNG) fuelling stations in China, was honoured “to have this opportunity to co- operate with NGC.”

Ramnarine expressed confidence that NGC and the ministry “could learn a lot from (ENN)” and in the process, “help to accelerate the CNG programme in Trinidad” over the next two years.

Asked if this would mean a further adjustment to the fuel subsidy, the Energy Minister assured Government would not contemplate any adjustment on diesel and super gasoline until the public has an alternative option at the pump - CNG.

Pressed for confirmation that prices would remain as is over the next two years, Ramnarine said, “No, there will not be any adjustment in the price of gasoline or diesel for the foreseeable...in the next couple of years.”

The minister did however alert reporters to Government’s plan to seek a greater stake in LNG Trains One and Four.

“We are going through a very interesting period in our LNG industry in TT. We are about to commence talks for the renegotiation of the Train One contract, which expires in 2018. We see that as an opportunity for TT to get more presence in the LNG industry in TT. For historic reasons, our presence is limited to ten percent of Train One and 11 percent of Train Four, and we’ll be seeking to strategically increase that presence and thereby the country gets a stronger position in the marketing of LNG. That would allow us to deal directly with the Chinese in terms of energy, and 2018 is not far away.”

Ramnarine and Chadeesingh are among a group of Government officials who arrived in Beijing over the last few days, ahead of this week’s Official Visit by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to mark the 40th anniversary of bi-lateral relations between TT and China.

During her five-day visit to China, the PM’s itinerary will include opening TT’s first embassy in China, located in the capital Beijing, as well as delivering the feature address at a Business Forum in Shanghai, hosted by InvesTT.

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