Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) is banking on continue exploration and production to improve the nation's standard of living. Ian Atherly, mayor of San Fernando, T&T, told attendees at the Canadian Offshore Resources Exhibition that Trinidad expects "a phenomenal rate of growth in natural gas production over the next few years." Certainly, recent successes in the island nation's offshore corroborate Atherly's prognosis.
Atherly cautioned, however, that resources alone do not guarantee an improved standard of living. And sustaining domestic improvement is a constant challenge. "Natural resources are a means, not an end," Atherly said. "Being resource rich does not of itself guarantee long-term prosperity."
Atherly shared Trinidad's goal to achieve developed nation status by 2020, noting that the road to that goal is not a smooth one. It will be paved by linking energy and non-energy industries and by making sure revenues from the oil and gas industry are invested domestically to improve the standard of living, he said.
Today, "99.9% of technical expertise is imported," Atherly said. "T&T needs a cadre of young professionals." Atherly noted that the shortfall of skilled labor is a critical hurdle for the country to overcome. It is being overcome in part by establishing new universities and encouraging students to pursue technical degrees.
In Atherly's estimation, the future looks bright. T&T is the world's number one exporter of LNG to the US and the number five exporter of LNG worldwide, according to Atherly. One-fourth of the total government revenue in Trinidad is energy related, and sustained profits from oil and gas E&P make the country's ambitious goals attainable, he said.