PORT OF SPAIN, Feb 23 (Reuters) – Trinidad and Tobago next month expects to formally begin negotiations with Venezuela on a promising offshore natural gas project, the Caribbean nation’s energy minister said on Thursday.
A deal would help revive the nation’s gas production, which contributes a large part of its export revenue and has been in decline. The joint venture could supply gas to Trinidad’s liquefied natural gas and petrochemical industry.
Energy Minister Stuart Young has traveled to Caracas twice to inaugurate the negotiations since the United States in January issued a license allowing the two nations to revive the Dragon gas field on the Venezuelan side of the maritime border with Trinidad. That project has been idled for over a decade.
Young is being assisted by a technical team, he told journalists on the sidelines of a media conference in Port of Spain. The minister met with Venezuela’s Vice President Delcy Rodriguez and Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami during his most recent trip.
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Trinidad hopes to speed up discussions on the terms of a partnership expected that would include Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and British energy firm Shell (SHEL.L), which produces gas in Trinidad.
Among initial documents to be signed with Venezuela are confidential agreements that will protect the information shared by the parties, the minister said.
Progress achieved between the two nations since a set of agreements were signed in 2018 will allow the next phases to happen quickly, bringing the first gas imports “in a relatively short time,” Young said.
Young also plans to meet U.S. officials in Houston next month to discuss the license and the gas project, following a previous round of talks with the U.S. government in Bahamas, he added.
Venezuela has remained under U.S. oil sanctions since 2019.