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Venezuela’s Dragon Gas: T&T stays the course – Joel Julien

  • …Ramnarine not surprised at development
...Ramnarine not surprised at development
Dr. Keith Rowley, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago (OilNow)

Joel Julien, TT Express

PORT SPAIN
EnergiesNet.com 07 29 2023

THE ongoing Dragon Gas negotiations are at a stalemate at this time as both Venezuela and the United States seem to be unwilling to compromise on the terms currently being offered, Prime Minister Dr trinidadexpress.com has said.

While he expressed the Government’s disappointment that the negotiations have been taking so long, Rowley reassured that the deal is not dead in the water.

Appearing on TV6’s Morning Edition programme yesterday Rowley was asked by host Marlan Hopkinson for an update on the highly-anticipated Dragon Gas deal.

“The Venezuelans have not accepted the terms laid down by the Americans. That is the long and short of it. We fought very hard to get the Americans to give us a carve-out which is to allow us to treat with PDVSA without breaking the sanctions; we eventually won that battle but they put a condition on it which the Venezuelans as of now have not accepted, we’re still talking on both sides; we’re still negotiating,” Rowley said.

In January the US approved Trinidad and Tobago’s development of the Dragon Field via an OFAC waiver for two years.

Since then Energy Minister Stuart Young has been engaged in talks with officials in Venezuela to iron out the deal.

While Rowley did not say what exactly was the sticking point for the negotiations at this time, Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro had previously been publicly critical of the US’s inclusion that there be no cash payments for the deal.

“It’s a disappointment for us here in Trinidad and Tobago that it is taking so long, or that the decisions that are being made for other people’s interests are being so detrimental to our interests,” Rowley said yesterday.

“And the most that we can do is to stay the diplomatic course and we’ve made a lot of friends, we’ve opened a lot of doors and we keep advocating for Trinidad and Tobago in those quarters,” he said.

Asked if the deal was dead in the water, Rowley said;

“Well, I wouldn’t say it is dead. We’ve progressed, we’ve got a term sheet with Venezuela, we’ve got an escape from the sanctions but it carried something with it; we are still connected to the sanctions by a condition so we are working on that condition to see if we can come to a place which the Venezuelans can accept, which the Americans can accept and when that day would have come we would be in a much better place.”

The Dragon Field holds up to 4.2 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Former energy minister Kevin Ramnarine said it was not surprising that the negotiations had hit this snag.

“I think we were a bit too premature in our celebrations back in January. I think we have to take into consideration the fact that there are three parties involved here, the United States, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela and the level of importance placed on this project by each one of those three countries varies,” Ramnarine said.

Ramnarine said while the Dragon Gas deal may be a high priority for us in T&T, it may not be so for the other parties involved.

Ramnarine said he believes the no-cash payment inclusion in the waiver may be a “major hurdle”.

“I don’t think that Trinidad and Tobago should plan its business around the anticipation of gas from Dragon. Yes we must continue to negotiate, yes we must continue to pursue and if the Government was to change I think that a new government of Trinidad and Tobago would continue to engage the Venezuelans on the Dragon Field but as a country we can’t hang our coat on Dragon, we have to make do with the resources that we have that belong to us,” Ramnarine said.

trinidadexpress.com 07 27 2023

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