Trinidad and Tobago must accept changes impacting the petrochemicals sector in order to maintain its standing as a world leader in the export of ammonia and methanol, the country’s Prime Minister Keith Rowley said during the Caribbean’s premiere energy conference.

“We are cognizant that the petrochemical industry is undergoing major changes. There is a universal and unrelenting movement towards low carbon and ‘greening’ of petrochemicals,” Rowley said during his keynote address on Jan. 23 during the Trinidad and Tobago Energy Conference 2023 at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain. 

“Therefore, if Trinidad and Tobago is to maintain its position as a leading exporter of ammonia and methanol, or even as a mere participant in the future international market, we must embrace the change,” Rowley said. 

Trinidad’s economy is dependent on gas to supply its four-train 14.8 million tonnes per annum Atlantic LNG export complex, as well as methanol and ammonia plants. Exports of the three products, including reduced shipments from Atlantic LNG due to the facility operating with three trains since December 2020, have benefitted from higher commodity prices owing to the Russia-Ukraine war.

“Current technology offers transitional abatement options to existing processes such as carbon capture, utilization and sequestration, pending generation of feedstock from renewables,” Rowley said. “The initiatives for expansion of renewables in our energy mix and the development of a hydrogen economy is in keeping with our strategy for the greening of the economy, which includes the generation of renewable feedstock in the production of petrochemicals.”

Trinidad launched its long-term roadmap for a green hydrogen economy in December of 2022, including establishment of a green hydrogen market in the small twin-island country. 

Trinidad Launches Roadmap to Green Hydrogen Economy

Rowley said Trinidad ranks as one of the largest exporters of ammonia and methanol, citing details revealed by the World Bank through its World Integrated Solution. Continued export of the products could underpin the value proposition for the Caribbean country’s green hydrogen economy, according to details recently revealed by Trinidad’s Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries.

In 2021, Trinidad’s methanol exports were valued at $1.53 billion, or 17.7% of total global methanol exports, and the country ranked only second to the Middle East’s energy giant Saudi Arabia. In the same year, Trinidad’s ammonia exports were valued at $1.68 billion, or 19.2% of total global exports, and the country ranked as the number one exporter, Rowley said.