Partners plan US$1.5bn-US$2bn Trinidad-Florida Pipeline

Canadian oil & gas company Canadian Superior Energy Inc. and a group of partners are planning a US$1.5bn-2bn natural gas pipeline from Trinidad to Florida, Canadian Superior CEO Greg Noval told BNamericas.

"We are very seriously looking at a pipeline to ship gas out of Trinidad to Florida," Noval said. He declined to mention who the partners are, but said that Canadian Superior is working with "larger entities," one of which would be the operator.

Although Noval said the project could get underway "very shortly," a source at Trinidad's national gas company NGC told BNamericas the project is "still on the drawing board."

The pipeline would be an extension of existing plans to run a gas pipeline from Trinidad to the Caribbean islands. Trinidad's energy ministry announced last week that the feasibility study for the Caribbean gas pipeline project would start soon. This project would terminate at the French dependants of Martinique and Guadeloupe, where there are large enough populations to justify gas-fired power generation, which would anchor the project.

The French government must agree to buy the gas, and Trinidad's government is reportedly having difficulty convincing the French government to take part in the project. The reluctance reportedly stems from the fact that French oil company Total has a stake in Trinidad's Greater Angostura upstream project, which operator BHP Billiton has said will produce only oil in its first years, and reinject gas to lift crude.

Venezuela's government has suggested that the pipeline be extended to start in Venezuela, continue to Cuba and from there to Florida. However, Trinidad's government is skeptical about this, newspaper The Trinidad Express reported, because it would mean reducing Trinidad's control over the project. Despite the Trinidadian government's concerns, Canadian Superior is confident the project will go ahead, enabling the company to tap the growing east coast US gas market, Noval said.

The Trinidad-Florida pipeline project would "complement" liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to the US from Trinidad's LNG liquefaction plant because "LNG cannot meet all the demand in the US," Noval said. Trinidad currently supplies about 95% of the US' LNG supplies.

Canadian Superior announced Wednesday that it has entered into a hydrocarbons exploration joint venture with Trinidad's state oil company Petrotrin in the Mayaro Bay/Guayaguayare area off Trinidad's east coast. The JV is a "stepping stone" to a gas export project, Noval said. Canadian Superior expects to obtain regulatory approval from Trinidadian authorities by year-end to start seismic work in Mayaro Bay/Guayaguayare in January, Noval said. Following that, there would be two months of seismic studies, meaning drilling could start May-June 2004, he said. Estimated investment in the first stage of the project is about US$12mn-US$15mn to cover 100 square miles with 3-D seismic and drill two wells, Noval said. "We are in relatively shallow water, only 20-30 feet, so the first two wells will cost about US$8mn, which is very affordable compared to wells further offshore," he said.

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