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Security around Trinidad energy assets beefed up

02 Apr 2018 15:15 (+01:00 GMT)
Security around Trinidad energy assets beefed up

Kingston, 2 April (Argus) — Energy companies in Trinidad and Tobago are stepping up security after the government warned that Islamist group Isis has a local cell, government and industry officials and diplomats tell Argus.

The worry is that export-oriented installations owned by major western companies, such as the 14.8mn t/yr Atlantic LNG plant, could be soft targets for the group.

Security concerns have been discussed by the government with diplomats from the US, UK, Canada and Australia – home countries for some companies involved in oil, natural gas, LNG, petrochemicals and fertilizers, according to the officials.

"The companies and the government are taking the security concerns seriously, and are acting on them in a quiet and coordinated manner," an energy ministry official tells Argus. "The companies have been strengthening internal security measures and monitoring systems. You will not see tanks and other military vehicles parked outside the oil and gas installations."

In late February, prime minister Keith Rowley said in a statement that Trinidadians who had joined Isis were returning home after the group lost territory in Syria and Iraq.

"We have to be particularly concerned about such persons and the monitoring of such persons is an integral part of our national security," Rowley recently told parliament.

There was no comment from LNG consortium Atlantic, its leading shareholder Shell or state-owned gas company NGC. BP, the country's biggest gas producer and the other main Atlantic shareholder, and the Energy Chamber, a trade association for the energy and petrochemical sectors, similarly declined to comment.

The increased security concerns coincide with an improvement in LNG output thanks to recovering gas production.

LNG production of 2.69mn m³ in January 2018 was the highest monthly output in three years, according to energy ministry data.

Gas production in January averaged 3.908bn cf/d, 17.1pc more than in January 2017, and the highest monthly average in two years.

Gas production in 2017 averaged 3.366bn cf/d, 1.2pc more than in 2016, and the highest level in two years.

The data indicate that the country's gas production is beginning to level out after steadily falling off a 2013 peak of 4.1bn cf/d.

The downward trend eroded LNG production by an accumulated 23.7pc in 2013-17, and also suppressed ammonia and methanol output.