Newly appointed Energy Minister, Gregory Bowen has sought to downplay the failure of the Grenada government to be present at the signing of an agreement earlier in the month for sale of the island’s potential gas resources between Russian company Global Petroleum Group (GPG) and the National Gas Company of Trinidad & Tobago (NGC).
The agreement was signed in Port-of-Spain between GPG’s Executive Director, Eduard Vasilev and President of the state-owned oil company in Trinidad, Mark Loquan.
Eyebrows were raised in some quarters of the country as there was no representative from the newly re-elected Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) Government during the signing ceremony.
According to Minister Bowen, it is the task GPG as the Oil Rig Company to seek out the market for the gas.
He said that this is what is normally done by other oil companies like British Petroleum (BP) and Texaco when they extract the resource from any country in the world.
“It is their duty and their task to sell it. They will sell it under world conditions, world prices and so forth because when we (government) want to get our royalties, we will be charging you (the oil company) the royalties 5% off world prices…whatever the pricing you negotiate with the other party…”, he told reporters.
“…So, GPG is finding a market and I can tell you …. Grenada played a significant role with the government of Trinidad and Tobago in finding that particular market…”, he said.
Bowen went on: “We worked with the government of Trinidad and Tobago to ensure that we could get a market…”.
The senior government minister pointed out that when the results of the GPG find in Grenadian waters become clearer it is possible that the refining of the product can be done in neighbouring Trinidad.
In addition, Minister Bowen said that the member countries of the sub-regional Organisation of Easterrn Caribbean States (OECS) stand to benefit from the GPG/NGC arrangement.
He said there is already “a booming energy sector” in the twin island republic and cheaper electricity can be one of the benefits that can be derived.
“The industry in Trinidad can prepare things and send it to us – energy itself because we know that pipelines can be built in the region.
“Besides that, a lot of opportunities (can come about). You have massive plants in Trinidad and Tobago producing electricity. They can produce electricity from their plants and the region, the OECS can benefit…so lots of opportunities going there.
The government minister was also asked by reporters to explain why the Mitchell-led government did not announce the gas agreement between the two oil companies before it was done in Trinidad and Tobago.
He said that Grenada wanted to be certain that T&T would buy the gas that was found by the Russians.
“We couldn’t be going out and say we hope Trinidad will buy or boasting that Trinidad will buy it. Trinidad made the announcement the same day negotiations were completed. So, we’re happy with that. So, we must know that it is not that we want to keep information from you (local media) but when we say something it must be concrete”, he added.
The No.2 man in the NNP regime also made some passsing remarks on comments made by the Energy Minister in Trinidad about GPG to test drill three more wells in Grenadan offshore waters.
“…We are cautiously optimistic. We cannot say for certain what will be the result of these three test wells. We hope that they will throw an abundance of gas and quality gas, then we will be making the big announcement to the public and to the world that we have a find of gas.
“Right now we cannot say that, even with the announcement in Trinidad and Tobago, we may be sixty or seventy percent certain but should we make a statement? Let us see the next three wells and we’re asking the Grenadian public to be patient – let’s see what happens with the next three wells.
“The first result indicates an abundance of natural gas, yes, we’re seeing the liquid component condensate and possibly oil but the massive result is gas. But when we do the next well, we hope and let us hope for Grenada’s sake that we can also find some oil.
Minister Bowen described the GPG/NGC accord as “substantive” and it is primarily intended “to off-load all the gas that we would find in Grenada”.
“Now, they’re waiting to see how much and perhaps the quality (of gas)”, he said.
According to the Energy Minister, time is of the essence and the remaining three wells should be drilled by the Russians “in a timely manner so as to prevent the occurrence of another company catching the interest of NGC”.
“We have to do three more wells and we want to get this done in a year, a year and a half and these are very costly, so the investor GPG must find the resources. We’re working with them in that regard and NGC, the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago, will be taking up the gas”, he remarked.
“Grenada is a good source but we are not the only source, if we linger and if a next source turns up we don’t expect them to wait on us. That is why now we have a good chance because we have signed an agreement,” he said.
The Mitchell-led government has not provided any information on the financial returns to Grenada under the deal signed with the Russian oil company.