Article: Trinidad a global energy powerhouse - by Tony Best
Date: Monday, November 08th, 2004
Source: www.NationNews.com - Barbados Nation News
The New York Times recently assessed Trinidad and Tobago [ http://www.gov.tt/ ] this way in a headline: A Small Island, A Big Exporter Of Energy." And Olga Kalinina, who tracks the economic picture of many Caribbean nations for Standard & Poors, told the Business Authority "Trinidad and Tobago is doing exceedingly well."
The rise of Trinidad and Tobago to international energy prominence is seen in the fact that the twin-island republic is not only supplying
the United States with most of its liquefied natural gas but is receiving billions of dollars in foreign investment every year.
Much of it is flowing into chemical plants, iron and steel complexes and two of the largest methanol facilities in the world.
"Amid a scramble to meet growing international energy demands and to satisfy the American market where the price of gas has risen to about
US$7 for each thousand cubic feet from just US$2 in 1999, Trinidad and Tobago has emerged as the Western Hemisphere's leading supplier of liquefied natural gas," stated the New York Times.
"It has steadily outpaced rivals this year, accounting for nearly 80 per cent of shipments to the United States, up from virtually nothing
five years ago."
Its evolution into an international energy powerhouse hasn't gone unnoticed in such capitals as far apart as Washington, Algiers and
For instance, when Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister, Patrick Manning[http://www.opm.gov.tt/ ], went to Washington recently, he was ushered in to see President Bush in the White House. Not long after that United States Energy Secretary, Spencer Abraham, found himself in Port-of-Spain for discussions with the government and that visit was followed by the presence of Henry Kissinger, former
Secretary of State, who has a large Louisiana firm company, Freeport McMoran Energy as one of his corporate clients.
The New Orleans-based Corporation has linked up with Trinidad and Tobago to build a large LNG receiving terminal off Louisiana's coast.
Some figures tell part of the Trinidad story:
• Gas output is worth US$4.5 billion.
• Oil exports have a value of US$1.4 billion.
• Its gross domestic product (per capita) of US$9,330 is one of the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean, just behind that-of Barbados but a far distance from the Bahamas' US$17,000-plus.
• Economic activity rose by an astounding 13 per cent last year and is set to expand by slightly less than half of that, seven per cent to be
exact this year.
• The economy has grown ten years in a row, perhaps the only Caribbean and Latin American nation to put up such numbers.
Small wonder, then that the New York Times reported, "economic prosperity in Trinidad is luring people and money from elsewhere in
But the glowing praises being showered on the country isn't obscuring a hard reality. Poverty in parts of the country is among the highest
in the Caribbean – a fifth of the population lives below the poverty line – and unemployment remains high, in the vicinity of almost 11 per
On top of that, there is the problem of income distribution, meaning that all segments of the society may not be benefiting from the country's current economic boom.[-End]
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