UNC’s energy manifesto offers much more than PNM’s

Guest blogger Devendra Rajcoomar returns this Thursday to continue his analysis on the energy policies of the two main political parties. Wednesday he analysed the PNM’s energy election policies. And now he focuses on the UNC’s or what’s called the People’s Partnership. Rajcoomar is a Trini-to-d- bone Consultant Fluid Drilling Engineer for the international firm Mi Swaco.

My initial reaction after reading the People’s Partnership manifesto’s first paragraph is that this has been written by someone who has experience working in an international oil company. The energy section in the PNM’s Manifesto sounds like it was written by an OJT in Petrotrin. Only the People’s Partnership immediately highlights the truth of the industry’s declining resources. And they go on to “comfort” us by saying they have a plan to deal with this in an environmentally safe manner, unlike the PNM’s manifesto which never stated this fact. Kind  of wonder if the PNM is trying to hide something from those who don’t know better. Here’s what I think of the People’s Partnership’s energy manifesto.

  1. Developing a Gas Pricing Policy. And round one goes to the People’s Partnership. Not only have they immediately identified that it’s GAS NOT OIL that is driving the economy, but they are ready to adjust prices. Excellent! Time for BP to pay for the natural resources of countries and stop destroying them by spilling oil all over the Gulf of Mexico.
  2. Ensuring gas projects are public and we the citizens are in the know. Good. Don’t tell us that we need a smelter when major countries around the world deny approval of these plants because of the adverse environmental damage. The People’s Partnership is not going to dictate gas projects they’re going to consult the communities.
  3. The  promise of a comprehensive review of taxation, policies, laws and regulations. Very much welcomed. Because these foreign oil companies can become very comfortable and feel like they can hold us to ransom. Remember what Chavez did recently? He actually locked out these foreign oil companies from their offices in Venezuela until they agreed to do what he wanted. And guess what? They did, because they need the oil and gas so badly. They are addicted. Don’t be fooled. It’s good to review these policies to keep the oil companies on the edge of their seats so that they will use better technology, environmentally friendly procedures and prices. We need  to review not just the production sharing contract, but our packages of policies to these foreign oil companies.
  4. Continuous expansion of energy skill sets. Education, university etc…10 points. Remember it was the  UNC who introduced Trinidad and Tobago Institute of Technology (TTIT) which is now University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT). Many of us, including myself, are results of this institution and are succeeding in very high levels throughout the industry.
  5. Ensuring gas allocation and energy security by analysing the true potential of our reserves and ensuring it’s put to the best use in the country. Fantastic. We need to quote more realistic numbers for our reserves and not over-estimate their volumes. However, the People’s Partnership doesn’t go into much detail as much as the PNM. They don’t disclose how they’re going to allocate our reserves. All they said is they’re going to evaluate it.
  6. Incentive program for companies considering development of renewable resources. Unfortunately not much detail. Again we need to be hearing more about this from all parties. Where are the windmillS and solar panels? At least the PNM is looking to develop some green energy policies.
  7. The increase in local content. Great. Two main things for me are the participation and ownership in energy projects. Why can’t we have more local owned energy companies? Is only mass costume and townhouse we know to build? And the resolution of the outstanding issues in the Caribbean and Latin America– Petrocaribe and CSME? The People’s Partnership is again stepping forward in reviewing these agreements. Why can’t Caribbean islands make a deal with Trinidad, and not Chavez, to satisfy their energy needs. There must be some way Trinidad can supply our neighbours and make some money from it. And it’s good the People’s Partnership is looking into this.

Conclusion

Basically, the People’s Partnership manifesto highlighted and reminded us that energy resources are on the decline and we need to manage it properly. They correctly identified gas is the bread winner of our economy and promised to look at gas pricing. They also said gas pricing, the policies, regulations and taxation of gas will be reviewed. Good idea. Again, GAS NOT OIL, as not emphasized on by the PNM, is our main focus.

Although, the People’s Partnership lacked detail on its incentives or enhanced oil recovery projects, there was some mention with it being necessary.  That’s good. We need to continue our efforts to retrieve oil from existing fields, but please do not make it the frontline act. The People’s Partnership is also willing to re-look the position in the Caribbean with the CSME and Petrocaribe. I’m not sure of the details of this agreement. But we definitely need to rethink this agreement.

Again these are all promises. And whether they’re going to be fulfilled this is unclear. But the fact the People’s Partnership is expressing these views and the PNM is not, says something. The PNM’s manifesto only highlighted four main pain policies. The People’s Partnership offered much more.

Thanks Devendra for your insightful views. Readers can read Devendra’s full analysis of the PNM’s election policy here.

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