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T&T MP Charles warns of geopolitical constraints with Dragon gas – Guardian T&T

Naparina MP Rodney Charles (Nicole Drayton/Guandian  T&T)
Naparina MP Rodney Charles (Nicole Drayton/Guandian T&T)

Gail alexander, T&T Guardian

EnergiesNet.com 02 12 2023

The “Dragon can dance” if Trinidad and Tobago overcomes the significant geopolitical constraints involved in the project, says Opposition MP Rodney Charles.

Charles commented on the matter as Energy Minister Stuart Young was in Venezuela during the week for negotiations on the Dragon Gas Field project. This country has been granted a two-year licence by the United States to develop the field.

“We all want Dragon Gas to succeed but before we celebrate and count our chickens before they are hatched, we must carry out the mandatory hard-nosed risk assessments,” he said.

“Everyone wants Trinidad and Tobago to successfully engage Venezuela’s abundant energy resources but it must be premised, not on wishful thinking or PNM’s 2025 electoral considerations or limited research, but on realistic, hard-nosed geopolitical and economic calculations.”

Charles said the Foreign Affairs Ministry must keep Cabinet fully briefed on the broader geopolitical implications “before we rush in where angels fear to tread and spend our limited foreign exchange on a monumentally risky project.”

He also cited the following factors:

• US President Biden is constrained by powerful domestic forces. Florida’s 30 votes in the US Electoral College are crucial to his 2024 electoral prospects. With over 1.5 million Cubans and an estimated 250,000 Venezuelans who are uncompromisingly opposed to socialism, Biden can kiss his chances goodbye of winning Florida if he ever fully engages Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.”

• The Republicans now control the US Congress. Maxine Waters, reportedly a strong supporter of Dragon Gas, for example, no longer chairs the US House Financial Services Committee.

• The second area of geopolitical concern is Russian influence on Maduro. Venezuela’s estimated US$100 billion debt to Russia and China severely limits its ability and that of PDVSA to freely engage in Dragon gas. Russia is also Venezuela’s most important trading and military ally.

• T&T’s Foreign Ministry may be advised to have off-ramp discussions with Russia which have little interest in the US desire to increase supplies of non-Russian gas on the world market.

• Government has to think long-term about increasing T&T’s reliance on Venezuela.

Charles added: “It would be considerably wiser to hedge our bets by significantly deepening energy relations with more politically stable Suriname and Guyana with whom we share many common interests.”

guardian.co,tt 02 10 2023

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