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Does This Offhand Gov't Comment Signal A Big Oil Opportunity?

Does This Offhand Gov't Comment Signal A Big Oil Opportunity?

Sometimes the smallest details mean the most. And a couple of little-reported comments from the government of one nation this week could signal very big things in progress for energy developers.

The place is the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago. Where the country's new energy minister made a public call for reforming oil and gas development.

As reported by Platts, energy minister Nicole Olivierre told a meeting of Trinidad's Energy Chamber that the country's oil and gas sector is in trouble. With the minister saying that the nation's production is in an "unabated decline" -- with oil output hitting its lowest-ever level this year, at 81,000 b/d. Related: Historic Failure For Brazilian Oil Auction

The minister put the blame squarely on one party: Trinidad's state-owned oil and gas developer Petrotrin. Saying that the company "has failed to engender any significant increase in production in its portfolio."

Olivierre went on to suggest that major changes are required to fix the situation. Saying the government needs to take a "serious look at Petrotrin" -- and that "the country cannot wait forever for the company to get its act together." Related: Energy Storage Just Got A Massive Vote Of Confidence

All of this sounds very meaningful. Especially from a newly-appointed minister, who obviously has a reform agenda squarely in her mind.

And that could be great news for international E&Ps.

That's because Petrotrin holds much of the prime acreage -- both onshore and offshore -- across Trinidad and Tobago. All of which has been largely closed to foreign investment for years.

At the same time, the country has well-proven petroleum potential. Trinidad is the largest oil producer in the Caribbean, with total output of over 3 billion barrels since 1857. Related: Can The Panama Canal Fulfill Its Global LNG Promise?

There a number of older fields here that could be enhanced with simple workovers. And there are undoubtedly more discoveries to be made -- especially on the extensive lands locked up in Petrotrin.

All of these opportunities could come available if a Mexico-style government shake-up does emerge here. Watch for more developments from the energy ministry over the coming months.

Here's to abating decline,

Dave Forest

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