Trinidad and Tobago wants to see a fair price for natural gas and is more concerned about that than the establishment of any world gas producers' cartel. That is the view of Energy Minister Carolyn Seepersad -Bachan who is now the alternate president and chairman of the executive board of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum. Mrs Seepersad-Bachan said she was concerned that global natural gas prices remained weak and that was not in the interest of Trinidad and Tobago. "If you look at our production portfolio, you will see that we are far more reliant on gas than on oil. In fact, natural gas is the mainstay of our economy and at present the natural gas prices are weak particularly in our major market, the US marke , and we need to see higher prices for LNG in that markets." Minister Seepersad Bachan told BG.
The Minister would not go as far as the Venezuelan Minister of Petroleum Rafael Ramirez who has called for oil and natural gas parity. Mr Ramirez is reported in the Gulf Times newspaper as calling for gas prices to be "regulated and show greater parity to the oil price." The United States and European countries have publicly expressed concerns that the Gas Exporting Countries Forum could become another OPEC–which is perceived by some western countries which are importers of energy products as being a cartel–thereby significantly affecting natural gas prices. Seepersad Bachan said there is no doubt that natural gas prices are too low but that all this country wanted was a fair price. She pointed out that low gas prices negatively impacted the desire by energy companies to invest in new exploration activities, which also affects the local services sector.
Venezuela has also called for a limiting of gas exports to affect demand, but that proposal has not received much support from other gas exporters. Only this week Deutsche Bank AG raised its 2011 oil price forecast to US$87.50 per barrel from US$80 per barrel but lowered its forecast for natural gas. The bank said it believed the trading range for Brent crude has moved from US$65-85 per barrel to $70-90 per barrel and as a result they were moving their 2011 forecast at the top end of that range. However the bank has lowering its 2011 gas price forecast for the first half of 2011 to US$4.25 per million BTUs from US$4.70 per million BTUs previously but expect better conditions by fourth-quarter 2011.?According to the German bank, the only way to fix low gas prices is to have a period of even lower gas prices. ?This means the Bank's forecast ?oil price forecast for 2011 is now five per cent above consensus and the gas price forecast is about 10 per cent below consensus.
Trinidad and Tobago is the largest exporter of LNG to the US market but the prices at the Henry Hub have been very weak due to the production of significant amounts of shale gas into the US market. The weak prices in the US have also dampened prices in other lucrative markets like Japan and with the world economy remaining fragile natural gas prices remain weak. With Minister Seepersad Bachan assuming alternative presidency of the forum from Venezuela's Petroleum Minister, for the next 12 months the organization's executive would be located in Trinidad and Tobago at the Ministry of Energy.