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Venezuela Set to Approve Shell-Trinidad Offshore Natural Gas Project

Venezuela is nearing a decision to approve a license for Shell and the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago (NGC) to export natural gas to Trinidad from a new offshore Venezuelan field, Reuters reported on Monday, quoting sources familiar with the matter.

Early this year, the U.S. Treasury granted a license to Trinidad and Tobago, allowing the Caribbean nation to develop a gas field offshore Venezuela and do business related to the gas field with Venezuela’s state oil firm PDVSA.

Trinidad and Tobago asked for a license for the Dragon field from the U.S. Department of the Treasury in the middle of 2022, and the exemption was recently granted by the U.S. Administration.

Trinidad and Tobago expects to gain access to around 350 million cubic feet of gas per day from the offshore field Dragon, Prime Minister Keith Rowley told a news conference in January, as carried by Reuters.

Approving the license would mean that Trinidad and Tobago could increase its gas imports, processing, and petrochemical exports, while Venezuela would get cash or part of the gas production in the form of royalties.

According to Reuters’ sources, the offshore natural gas project would be operated by supermajor Shell, which will hold 70% in the license, while Trinidad and Tobago’s NGC will have a 30% stake.  

The U.S. lifted most sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry after the Nicolas Maduro government reached a deal with the opposition that could see elections held next year.

At the same time, the U.S. Treasury also allowed Trinidad and Tobago to “negotiate with the Government of Venezuela and PDVSA to obtain exploration and production licenses to extract natural gas, to operate the Dragon field and to make various payments associated with such a project including, taxes, royalties, fees and lease bonus payments,” Trinidad’s Ministry of Energy said last month.  

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“The said amendment further authorizes GORTT, NGC, and Shell plc to make payments to the Government of Venezuela in fiat currency, including US dollars or bolivars,” Trinidad and Tobago said.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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