COVID-19 and Climate Change Prompt an Energy Rethink in Trinidad and Tobago

COVID-19 and Climate Change Prompt an Energy Rethink in Trinidad and Tobago
Oil rigs and ships in Claxton Bay, Trinidad and Tobago, Jan. 3, 2015 (Flickr photo by Leslie-Ann Boisselle).

For decades, the Caribbean twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago has relied on oil and natural gas production to guarantee its energy security and provide a measure of fiscal stability for the government.* Even as oil and gas revenues have steadily declined since hitting a peak in the late 1970s, the country’s economy remains highly reliant on the energy sector, which accounts for around 75 percent of exports and 40 percent of GDP. However, the crash of global energy markets amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing threat of climate change are providing an impetus for a reevaluation of Trinidad and Tobago’s energy security and a concerted diversification of the nation’s energy mix.

The definition of energy security is broad, encompassing the physical security of infrastructure and trade routes; the ability to develop and acquire supplies; and the conduciveness of policies and business climates. It can refer to either the security of demand or of supply. For Trinidad and Tobago, it is both: The country’s economy relies on steady global demand, and domestic energy consumption is almost entirely oil and gas.

On the former issue of demand security, signs are ominous. Trinidad and Tobago’s budget deficit for 2020 is estimated at 11 percent of GDP, due to collapsed oil and gas prices and increased expenditures from the pandemic. This is not to suggest that COVID-19 means the end of the country’s oil and gas industry. In October alone, an exploration well discovered new natural gas deposits in the Ortoire area, and BP’s Trinidadian subsidiary completed the expansion of an export terminal at the port of Galeota. Still, in the long term, the pandemic’s impact adds to the growing case for Trinidad and Tobago to strengthen its energy security.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review