Energy profile: Trinidad and Tobago
Fuel mix (fossil fuels vs renewables)
Trinidad and Tobago derives almost all of its energy from domestically produced hydrocarbons, especially natural gas. Due to the country's abundant fossil fuel supplies and economic dependence on oil and gas, renewables play a negligible role in the national energy mix, though a few small solar projects are underway and the government has begun assessing potential for onshore and offshore wind energy. Trinidad and Tobago set a target of 10% renewable electricity production by 2021, which it had yet to accomplish by the deadline.
Greenhouse gas emissions targets
Trinidad and Tobago is responsible for less than 0.1% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. However, the country's relatively small population and high levels of oil and gas production combine to create some of the world's highest per capita emissions figures, 90% of which can be traced to the energy sector. As of 2019, the country's per capita CO2 emissions from fuel combustion (11.9 tons annually) continued to outpace other Latin America and Caribbean countries by a wide margin.
Trinidad and Tobago set a goal during the 2015 Paris climate summit to reduce GHG emissions 15% by 2021, generating at least 10% of its electricity from solar and wind energy. The government's Nationally Determined Contribution plan released in 2018 calls for Trinidad and Tobago's power generation, transportation, and industrial sectors to reduce emissions by 15% relative to business as usual by 2030.
Government energy agencies
National energy ministry
Permitting and regulatory agencies
The MEEI is responsible for monitoring, controlling, and regulating the country's energy and mineral sectors. The Regulated Industries Commission also serves as a regulator for the energy sector.
National oil company
State-owned Petrotrin (Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago) was broken up in 2018 as a cost-cutting measure following the shutdown of its aging and insolvent refinery at Pointe-à-Pierre. Subsequently reorganized under the name Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Limited, its new subsidiary Heritage Petroleum Company has taken on responsibility for domestic crude oil exploration, development, production and marketing, while Paria Fuel Trading Company handles terminals, imports of refined products, supplies and logistics.
State-owned National Gas Company is responsible for the purchase, sale, transmission, distribution, and aggregation of Trinidad and Tobago's natural gas resources.
Leading energy companies
POWERGEN (Power Generation Company of Trinidad and Tobago) is the leading independent power producer in the country.
Energy sector employment data
Despite its significant contributions to GDP and exports, Trinidad and Tobago's oil and gas sector is responsible for less than 5% of employment.
As of 2020, the installed electrical capacity of Trinidad and Tobago was 2417 MW.
Trinidad and Tobago produced 9.2 TWh of electricity in 2020. For the past several decades, the vast majority of Trinidad and Tobago's electricity has been generated from domestic natural gas.
In 2018, peak demand for electricity was 1,319 MW.
As of 2019, the per capita consumption of electricity in Trinidad and Tobago was 5,975 kWh.
Coal in Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago has no coal reserves and produces no coal. As of 2016, the country consumed 198 tons of imported coal annually, ranking 125th in the world for coal consumption.
Oil & Natural Gas in Trinidad and Tobago
In July 2021, the Shell company's offshore gas wells reached gas in two of the deepest development wells in the country's waters: Endeavour (20,000 feet/6,096 meters) and Bounty ((16,000 feet, 4,877 meters).
As of 2019, natural gas accounted for approximately 88% of Trinidad and Tobago's energy consumption, with oil comprising an additional 11%.
Exports & imports
Crude oil accounts for more than 40% of Trinidad and Tobago's exports. The country is also a major exporter of natural gas; as of 2021, only about 8% of Trinidad's domestic natural gas production was required for domestic electricity generation, with most of the remainder being exported as LNG from the country's Atlantic LNG Terminal.
As of 2018, Trinidad and Tobago had an estimated 220.1 million barrels of oil reserves and 10.53 tcf of natural gas reserves.
Proposed new sources & projects
Government plans call for the continued development of natural gas, based on existing reserves, in the medium term future. Trinidad and Tobago's Minister of Energy and Energy Industries has stated that the government sees natural gas as a bridge fuel towards a more sustainable energy mix.
Trinidad and Tobago is expected to increase its natural gas production between 2021-2025 with seven natural gas projects anticipated to begin during this time period.
Trinidad and Tobago has several operating natural gas pipelines, including the Angelin Gas Pipeline, Cross-Island Pipeline, ECMA Development Gas Pipeline, NCMA Development Gas Pipeline, and Tobago Gas Pipeline. Other pipelines proposed for the region include the Dragon Gas Pipeline, the Grenada to Trinidad and Tobago Gas Network, and the Inter-Caribbean Natural Gas Pipeline.
Renewable Energy in Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago has been historically weak in developing renewable energy infrastructure because the country has relied on natural gas for so long. The government has begun reworking its legislative framework to facilitate electricity production from renewable sources, and there is a push for creation of a renewable energy agency within the Ministry of Energy. As of 2019, less than 1% of Trinidad and Tobago's energy came from low-carbon sources. In 2020, BP, Shell, and Lightsource won a bid to provide grid scale renewable energy throughout Trinidad and Tobago.
In 2021, the Trinidad and Tobago Solar Energy Market was projected to grow from 3 MW of solar power in 2020 to approximately 184 MW by 2026.
As of 2021, the government began the Wind Resource Assessment Programme (WRAP) which aims to promote the use of renewable energy specifically through a detailed evaluation of wind energy production potential.
Iron & Steel in Trinidad and Tobago
Raw steel production in Trinidad and Tobago has been falling since 2003. Trinidad and Tobago experienced a drastic drop in steel production and exportation following the closure of the ArcelorMittal Point Lisas steel plant in March 2016. Iron exports were also impacted by the temporary closing of Nucor's direct reduced iron plant in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Environmental impact assessments in Trinidad and Tobago are a relatively new development, focusing more on post-disaster assessments rather than creating preemptive strategies for environmental management in the oil and gas industry. Penalties meant to deter environmental violations are ineffective because there are not adequate resources to properly monitor the sector. Wetlands, coastal resources, and rural communities are disproportionately affected by the oil and gas industry. With the effects of climate change, sea level rise and storm surge are major risks to oil infrastructure.
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