Trinidad Tobago Natural Gas Reserves “Exhausted In 20 Years” – IMF


UPDATED: 9:20am June 5th – See "Cement" Below

How Will Trinidad's Natural Gas Shortage Impact Barbados?

The LA Times is reporting growing resistence to the establishment of a $7.4 billion US dollar investment program that would see T & T's southwest become even more industrialised. In particular, a plan for a $1.5 billion US dollar aluminum smelter is drawing heavy reaction from all over the islands.

The article also reveals increasing concern that natural gas reserves in Trinidad – Tobago are not strong enough to support such an expanded industrial base.

But the real key is found in the last line of the article…

"At the current rate of extraction, (Trinidad-Tobago's) proven energy reserves were expected to be exhausted in about 20 years, a recent study by the International Monetary Fund found."

LA Times article here.

Two observations come to mind…

1/ This highlights that for small countries like Barbados and Trinidad-Tobago, a resource-based industrial economy is foolish in the long run.

Increasing populations and industrial activities are eating up resources faster than anyone dreamed of. Twenty years is a blink of an eye – and with it's natural gas reserves depleted, what will Trinidad then do?

2/ Many of Barbados' plans for the future rely upon continued natural gas from Trinidad-Tobago – delivered at a reasonable price.

Even our much-hailed plans for producing ethanol from sugar cane rely heavilly upon T-T natural gas. (Which is one of the big reasons that sugar cane ethanol produces only modest energy gains. It takes a whole lot of energy to make ethanol, and some even see a negative equation with a net energy loss – but more on that later)

When Trinidad-Tobago's natural gas reserves are halfway depleted – say in 10 years – what will happen to Barbados if we continue to rely heavily on this supply when planning?

Twenty years is a blink of an eye – and all of us on Barbados had better remember that each and every morning.

UPDATED: Ten Year Fuel Deal Expires – Causes Cement Cost to Increase

We no sooner get finished posting the article about T-T's natural gas reserves, when we see an article in today's The Nation News.

Ten years ago, the Arawak Cement Plant in Barbados struck a deal with Venezuela to supply fuel for the cement plant at $200 per tonne. Now, the deal is finishing and the plant will have to revert to Bunker C fuel at $600 per tonne.

Everybody is crying the blues – but the contract was for 10 years at a certain price, and the ten years is over.

Now Venezeula wants to please China so much that Barbados will be cut off – as all sales of this fuel will go to China.

As we said: Twenty years is the blink of an eye.


Filed under Barbados, Environment, Island Life

17 responses to “Trinidad Tobago Natural Gas Reserves “Exhausted In 20 Years” – IMF

  1. Observer

    Glad to see you are hitting on the energy issues. Many people don’t realize the how even seemingly quite small increases in consumption of any resource over time will accumulate such that the resource can be depleted in a much shorter time period than might generally be acknolwedged.

    The problem for the world (not just Barbados and the Caribbean) is that as our economies are currently set up to require continuous and perpetual growth this also requires continuous and perpetual growth in energy consumption. To date hydrocarbons like oil and natural gas have been plentiful, relatively cheap and easy to obtain and have therefore made an excellent source of energy to fuel the world’s economic growth over the last 100 years or so (ignoring for the sake of argument the impact of burning hydrocarbons on global warming). Unfortunately for our generation and the ones to follow, it now appears that we are reaching the limits as to how much oil and natural gas can feasibly be extracted from the earth.

    I recommend to get a grasp on how this all works everyone should view or listen to the lecture on exponential growth and resource depletion by retired University of Colorado Physics prof. Albert Bartlet. To follow Prof. Bartlett’s lecture does not require a high level knowledge of mathematics and his lecture is now freely available on the web:

    “The retired Professor of Physics from the University of Colorado in Boulder examines the arithmetic of steady growth, continued over modest periods of time, in a finite environment. These concepts are applied to populations and to fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal.”

    For those interested in energy issues (and at this stage we all should be), I suggest also checking regularly the web sites and

  2. BFP

    “Tanks” for de tip, Observer! 😉

  3. Global warming, now energy depletions, Oh it really is about global warming. I will yawn at this exercise in intellectual gymnastics. Chicken little the sky is falling the sky is falling. 😀

  4. BFP

    You can yawn if you like Adrian, but it is all linked together.

    While we are very skeptical regarding a human cause for Global Warming, it is nonetheless something that we may have to deal with.

    Things change, and can change almost overnight.

    You live in New Jersey, right? Just north of you is one of the world’s largest terminal moraines. How do you think it got there?

  5. I don’t know but am sure that you do, base on the account of someone who witness it’s formation. Probably some academic who looks as old as the moraine which would make believe that he did indeed witness it’s formation, and who pontificated to the point that he believed his assertions, wrote a book, and got a whole bunch people believing that he knows for sure, and thus it became a “Scientfic fact” 😀

  6. John

    Long before energy becomes a crisis water will have hobbled us.

    It is a pity because ground water is a renewable resource.

    It just needs to be used and treated sensibly and it will be potable for all time.

  7. ….More prophecy, I am amaze that we would ignore the christian evangelical prophecy that the world is coming to an end in which Christ will return and the earth will be destroyed with fire and brimstone, only to engage in these prophetic scare tactics. Barbados has had inadequate water resource for nearly 30 years or more since i have been hearing it all my life, and yet we are not any way near to having health issues as a result of water scarcity, indeed we do not need to wait until such is the case, and in fact we are not.

  8. BFP

    Adrian, you would have been perfect as the mayor of a town called Walkerton. 😉

    You can read about it in our article “HEAT Newpaper Exposes Barbados Water Authority E. Coli Danger”

    By a coincidence though, as John once pointed out…

    “I see the good people of Walkerton have as a mayor a fellow called David Thompson!!

    Boy, he certainly gets around!!

    All fun and jokes aside. This is a serious problem.

    It is one more sympton of the underlying problem of the inability of our strategic thinkers and we the public to grasp the implications of water to the sustainability of our country.”

    You can read our original article here…

  9. The the Heat do a better job than your report?

    Your last paragraph: we can’t grasp the implications yet we know that is it serious, and therefore must be scared. 😀

    Heat, walkerton, Mayor sounds like fiction to me? not interested

  10. Walkerton is real. Google walkerton, ontario water

    or read this from the Toronto Sun.

  11. Jane

    The threat to our water supply is such a serious and real one that we cannot blame some people for wanting to bury their heads in the sand. It is far more comfortable to do this than to allow ourselves to feel and admit our helplessness.

  12. Anonymous

    Jane: Yes it is serious, but is the thread eminent? if so why would it be necessary for the BFP to attempt to rush this seriousness to the point of suggesting eminent and impending doom? Would you and the BFP wish such a think of the people of Barbados simply to score political points? I have note your unwillingness to call BFP on the callous manner in which they distort a report to make a point. Wunnuh couldn’t fool me about the real purpose of this blog. Duguid i going to bet you 100 USD that this site don’t last too long after the election. 😀 as it would have failed in it’s purpose. 😀

  13. william duguid


    Which site are you referring to BLP Blog or BFP
    I would hope the BLP blog last long after as there will always be another election after this one.

    With respect to the water issue i think it has been taken out of context and others have made the point better than I could have.

  14. william duguid

    I am however happy to take the 100.00 would you please offer it to the Arthur Smith School as part of a fund to purchase some new computers.

  15. The White Rabbit

    Well well, quite a lot of verbiage over energy and water. One more time for those who missed it before. The answer to the energy problem lies in the hot rocks of St. Vincent and St. Lucia where we can make all the electricity we want with no pollution through geothermal production. Forget wind and solar, too expensive and require conventional back-ups for windless days and sun-less nights. Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink. No no, just water water everywhere and all leaking out of the pipes that government failed to keep in repair. It is politically expedient for government to declare the island water-scarce (government by crisis). In fact fixing only half the leaks would double the water supply, but that approach is not as slick nor politically appealing as building expensive de-sal plants that produce the world’s most expensive water. We see also that folks are bemoaning the rise in fuel costs for the cement plant from $200 to $600. The answer is very simply, shut the thing down. Barbadians already pay three times the world price for cement just so government can say they are turning a profit at Arawak. What a joke! Arawak cement can be had in St. Lucia for half the price paid here. One can go to Curacao and buy Arawak cement then ship it back here and its cost would be half what Barbadians pay for Arawak at home. All to let government pretend they are self-sufficient. Who is hurt? Not Mr. Fat Cat at Sandy Lane. He can afford cement at any price. Who is hurt is the little Barbadian on a shoe string budget trying to build his dream house on his fast eroding piece of the rock. Come on, let’s get some relief for the folks that need it!

  16. John

    White Rabbit

    You have a few errors in here.

    One of them is that Arawak is owned by the Hand from the South, not the Barbados Government!!

    Another is that it wasn’t Government who declared Barbados water scarce. They were keeping quiet about it until some insignificant international organisation like the UN or WHO or some other came along and made this doom and gloom prediction a few years back.

    But you don’t need the Government or some international organisation as a source of wisdom. You can also open your school atlas and figure it out for yourself!!

    No rocket science here!!

    Oh yes, the sand in the Sand Pit is running out too!! So how will the Fat Cat mix his cement?

    I am being a Chicken Little today.

  17. Pingback: Barbados Free Press » Blog Archive » China Controls Barbados Cement Costs