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PM: NGC profits fund cheap flour, rice, oil

By SEAN DOUGLAS Saturday, July 26 2014

LAST year the National Gas Company (NGC) made after-tax profits of TT$6.5 billion, some of which will be used to fund the Government’s 20 percent subsidy of flour, rice and cooking oil to celebrate Eid, said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar last Thursday night at the NGC Stakeholder Appreciation function at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port-of-Spain.

“This is the highest profit in the history of the company,” she declared. “It makes the NGC easily the most profitable locally owned company, and one of the most profitable companies in the region.”

Persad-Bissessar said the NGC contributes significantly to the Treasury by way of taxes and dividends. She punned that she was glad to use some of those energy revenues to energise the social sector, and to improve citizens’ lives by way of water-distribution, roads and bridges, schools, health centres, police stations and other benchmark initiatives.

She boasted that NGC has been transformed from a company for supplying gas to one that has a presence across the natural gas value chain. The NGC owns an 11 percent shareholding in Atlantic LNG Train IV, Conoco Philips shares in Phoenix Park Gas Processors Limited and Total’s upstream assets.

The PM said her government had boosted the local energy sector, as proven by recent figures for foreign direct investment (FDI).

“In closing, I believe it is important that it is recalled that my government inherited an energy sector where investment was at a low, where drilling was in decline and oil production was in “free fall,” she said. “The figures for FDI in the energy sector in the last three years is a story of a reversal of that decline.”

FDI had jumped from $501 million in 2010, to $1,673 million in 2011, to 42,186 million in 2012 and settled at $1,437 million last year, she said.

Drilling activity had also increased, she said, noting that compared to just one rig operating in 2010 the country now has eight rigs working.

“The story of drilling activity in the last three years also shows a marked turnaround from the lows of 2009 /2010,” said Persad-Bissessar.

She said that the lift in drilling activity was measured by an increase in rig-days. The rig-days were 744 in 2009; 1,132 in 2010; 2,214 in 2011; 2,788 in 2012; and 2,485 last year.

“Oil production has been stabilised at around 81,000 barrels per day and we expect to see improvements towards the end of the year,” noted Persad-Bissessar.

“Despite these conditions and a challenging global economy we ensured that there existed an enabling environment to deliver the kind of turnaround marked this evening.” She thanked those energy sector leaders present who were largely responsible for these achievements.

Persad-Bissessar said the figures presented proved that TT is experiencing an unprecedented period of development.

NGC chairman, Indar Maharaj, said TT is the biggest producer of natural gas in the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean, ahead of countries such as Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia. Only the US, Canada and Mexico exceed TT’s gas production in this hemisphere. TT is the world’s sixth main exporter of LNG. He said NGC’s asset-base had doubled in value between 2007 and last year from $22 billion to $45 billion. He expressed great optimism over the prospects for deep-water exploration, when drilling starts in 2016.

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