Rowley: Oil and gas opportunities for Toco region

Thursday, March 28, 2019 - 10:15

The north­east re­gion of Trinidad has the po­ten­tial to be­come a gas and oil in­dus­try sim­i­lar to Point Ga­le­o­ta and Guayagua­yare which can pro­vide a bet­ter qual­i­ty of life for cit­i­zens who live be­low the eco­nom­ic pyra­mid.

This was the mes­sage Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley sent to con­stituents of To­co/San­gre Grande at the sod turn­ing cer­e­mo­ny of the $196 mil­lion Va­len­cia In­ter­sec­tion to To­co Main Road up­grade which will be un­der­tak­en by three con­trac­tors - LCB Con­trac­tors Ltd, Lutchmesingh Trans­port Ltd and Har­ryper­sad and Sons. The event took place in Va­len­cia on Wednes­day.

The up­grade is part of 12.4 kilo­me­tres of a road net­work to the pro­posed To­co Port which will pro­vide fish­ing fa­cil­i­ties, a two storey ad­min­is­tra­tive build­ing, a ma­ri­na for 30 plea­sure ves­sels, boat lifts, car­go stor­age, 300-pas­sen­ger wait­ing lounge, cus­toms of­fice and a coast guard fa­cil­i­ty.

A ho­tel will al­so be built to at­tract tourist.

The 20-month project com­pris­ing eight pack­ages will be done in two phas­es.

De­liv­er­ing the fea­ture ad­dress, Row­ley ad­mit­ted that half of the coun­try had lit­tle in­fra­struc­ture, cit­ing To­co/San­gre Grande as an ex­am­ple.

Since as­sum­ing of­fice, Row­ley said the Op­po­si­tion had crit­i­cised every­thing they did.

“It mat­ters not how loud we shout or who blames us un­til that in­fra­struc­ture is built you will re­main be­hind God back in T&T.”

Row­ley said poli­cies and pro­grammes have to be de­vel­oped to bring them on board.

He said the Op­po­si­tion had ac­cused his Gov­ern­ment of wast­ing mon­ey when they award­ed a $400 con­tract to Kall­co for con­struc­tion of the Cu­mu­to to Man­zanil­la High­way, which was tak­en to court by en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist group Fish­er­men and Friends and the Sea.

“And we had to go to court and pay lawyers mil­lions of dol­lars to de­fend the Gov­ern­ment’s le­gal right to pro­ceed,” Row­ley said, which they even­tu­al­ly won in the Privy Coun­cil.

“But this Gov­ern­ment did not give up and this Gov­ern­ment will not give up. Sur­pris­ing­ly, as straight for­ward as that is it will of­fend some peo­ple. Some peo­ple will find some­thing to fight about. If not this project, which one? And if not now, when? And if not the PNM who will do it?”

The PM as­sured the project was no guess­work, as they did an eco­nom­ic analy­sis on the com­mu­ni­ties in the re­gion which de­pressed him af­ter read­ing that “this part of the coun­try with so much promise” was at the “bot­tom of the eco­nom­ic pyra­mid” due to lack of de­vel­op­ment and in­fra­struc­ture.

He as­sured that the port and road net­work will cre­ate pos­si­bil­i­ties and jobs, in­crease agri­cul­ture pro­duc­tion for res­i­dents and gen­er­ate tourism.

“I don’t know who the farm­ers are but once the ac­cess for the land is there the first hur­dle is crossed and the farm­ers will come.”

Row­ley said the Gov­ern­ment will al­so be able to tap in­to our na­ture re­serves and forestry in­dus­try.

“It will bring us ac­cess, very im­por­tant­ly the oil and gas ex­plo­ration that is tak­ing place East of San­gre Grande and all the way East of To­ba­go. Who knows, but may be very soon. If we are suc­cess­ful over there on those oil wells that we can be­come as in­volved in the oil and gas in­dus­try as Guayagua­yare and Ga­le­o­ta are be­cause we are near­est ge­o­graph­i­cal­ly.”

Soon, Row­ley said the Gov­ern­ment will go out to bid for some of the acreages off­shores.

“We have drilling tak­ing place off­shores. To­co could eas­i­ly be­come a jump­ing off point to our east­ern re­serves as we ex­plore and as we are suc­cess­ful go­ing for­ward. The best part of the ocean is East of us.”

Row­ley said the To­co port will be used to ser­vice the seabridge to To­ba­go, which spans 27 miles, us­ing the US $17.4 mil­lion Galleons Pas­sage.

Once the port be­gins op­er­a­tion, Row­ley said the Galleons Pas­sage will sail twice dai­ly to the sis­ter Isle, stat­ing this would be the per­fect trans­porta­tion means to im­prove the seabridge ser­vice.

“This will take time to blos­som.”

“I stand in clos­ing the gap be­tween To­ba­go and To­co and be­tween Va­len­cia and Scar­bor­ough be­cause that is how you de­vel­op a coun­try. I am in no pop­u­lar­i­ty con­test with these is­sues. If there is a fight to be had your cham­pi­on is the Gov­ern­ment of T&T.”

Reporter: Shaliza Hassanali