You are here

The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad & Tobago

May 13, 2008 - 12:00pm

Addthis

Remarks As Prepared for Delivery by Secretary Bodman

Thank you, Raymond.  I appreciate the Chamber organizing this gathering this morning.  The American Chamber here on Trinidad and Tobago is an important regional voice in support of the free market, so I want to commend you for hosting the Business Future of the Americas conference next month.

Having spent most of my career in the private sector, it is always rewarding to be among colleagues from the business community.

I'm also quite pleased to be back in Trinidad & Tobago, having done business here during my time at Cabot Corporation.

I've always been impressed with this nation's government, its people and its business community.

With its strong commitment to free markets, to increased investment and trade, and to stable supplies of energy, Trinidad & Tobago is a real leader in the region and, I'm proud to say, a true friend to the United States.

T&T is the United States' largest source of LNG, supplying about 58 percent of our LNG imports in 2007, and is recognized globally as a leader and innovator in moving LNG to market.

In addition, T&T's petrochemical sector plays an important role in the U.S. industrial sector - the majority of the ammonia, methanol and urea we import is produced here.  We are mutually reliant and reliable partners.

I think one example illustrates this quite well.

One of the LNG import terminals operating in the United States is located near Boston, Massachusetts.  And 100 percent of all LNG cargoes supplied to this terminal since 2004 have come from Trinidad & Tobago.

Of course, given my many years in Boston - not to mention my history with Cabot Corporation and the establishment of that facility - this hits close to home for me.  But consider this: during peak winter demand, the LNG imported into this terminal comprises as much as 40% of the total natural gas supply for the New England region.

So when I say that T&T is vital to the United States' energy security, I mean it.

It is therefore appropriate - indeed, absolutely necessary - that our two nations are cooperating on the protection of critical energy infrastructure assets.

One reason for my visit is to ensure this aspect of our relationship continues to develop and strengthen.  I also see opportunities for expanding our energy partnership beyond the gas sector, and I look forward to discussing these during my time here.

The way I see it, the stakes for a continued - and strengthened - relationship between the United States and Trinidad & Tobago could not be higher.

The world needs safe, reliable, clean, affordable, and diverse energy supplies - and in considerably greater numbers than it now has.  We face a global challenge, perhaps one of the most significant of our time - and one that you all understand acutely.

As if we needed more evidence of its scope, the International Energy Agency estimates that the world's primary energy needs will grow by 55% by 2030.

Addressing this challenge in a timely way will require literally billions of dollars annually over many years.  The IEA estimates that $22 trillion of investment will be needed between now and 2030 to meet expected demand.  We also know that this investment must occur around the world at all stages of the energy cycle.

At the same time, we all must recognize the realities of global climate change and look for ways to develop clean sources of energy that at the very least do not worsen - and can hopefully improve - the health of our earth's environment.

These are our twin challenges: improving global energy security in a way that allows all nations of the world to prosper; and addressing global climate change.

To meet them will require responsible and sustained action both from consuming nations and producing nations - actions to expand the energy alternatives available to the world and move to sources and methods of production and delivery that are more efficient, cleaner, sustainable and secure.

For conventional fuels, the principal challenges facing the world are:

  • Will the necessary investments be made to bring sufficient hydrocarbons to market?
  • Is the investment climate in producing countries conducive to inviting such capital flows?
  • And are we adequately investing in ways to produce fossil energy more cleanly and efficiently?

These are key questions facing Trinidad & Tobago, and I know we'll be discussing these issues today.

Among other things, I look forward to hearing about how the government is partnering with the private sector to increase its refining capacity for crude oil.

While the world will remain dependent on hydrocarbons for years to come, it is clear that we absolutely require new energy options in the form of alternative fuels and clean energy technologies.  In particular I would highlight: the development of commercially competitive cellulosic biofuels; advanced vehicle technologies like plug-in electric hybrids; hydrogen fuel cells; solar energy, including an acceleration of the development of solar photovoltaics; high-efficiency wind power; and carbon sequestration and clean-coal technologies.

And, no matter if we are net exporters or importers of energy, every nation - and every industrial sector - must promote increased energy efficiency.  Because, the truth is, the biggest source of immediately available "new" energy is the energy that we waste every day.

I believe that improvements in energy efficiency can be achieved - in relatively short order - on a global scale in our industrial and power-generating sectors, our government agencies, our homes, our offices, and our transportation sector.

Collectively, these measures will not only take some pressure off of global demand, but also improve the health of our shared environment.

I applaud the government of Trinidad & Tobago for recognizing that diversifying this nation's energy resources and increasing its energy efficiency will benefit its economy for the long term and will be critical to sustaining its development.

Because in all these areas - from hydrocarbon development to alternative energy to improved efficiency - though the role of the private sector is paramount, it is also clear that governments have a tremendously important role to play.

Let me just highlight a few areas in particular.

First, governments have a critical role in funding the research that will help to lessen the world's dependence on fossil fuels and harness the tremendous power of clean, alternative energy technologies.

In the United States, under President Bush's leadership, we are aggressively funding programs - for both basic science and applied R&D - to hasten the type of transformational discoveries we need, the breakthroughs that truly change the nature of our thinking and fundamentally alter how we produce, deliver and use energy.

At the same time, we're actively pursing new approaches to getting beneficial technologies out into the marketplace quickly by employing a range of collaborative models, including cost-sharing partnerships and loan guarantees, as well as establishing innovative programs to bring venture capital-sponsored entrepreneurs into our National Laboratories to help commercialize new technologies.

What we're trying to do is look at this challenge in a new way -- to try to incentivize the collaboration that is necessary between government and the private sector.

Because the key to unlocking our energy future is ensuring that the innovation cycle continues at a rapid pace across the spectrum - in our government laboratories, at our universities, and especially in the private sector.

And our collective success globally will depend on policy and regulatory environments that not only support - but actively encourage - the type of aggressive investment and sustained collaborations we need.

This brings me to a broader point: in order to ensure the scale of investment we need for reliable and secure global energy production into the future, open market principles are essential.

T&T certainly plays a leading role in the region in this regard, by limiting investment barriers and providing a welcoming climate to foreign direct investment.  Even in the face of strong pressure from some in the region, this country has shown great leadership in resisting non-market based energy supply arrangements.

This is one of the reasons why the United States' commercial ties with Trinidad & Tobago have always been strong and have grown substantially.

U.S. firms have invested more than $1 billion in recent years, and many of America's largest corporations have offices and operations here-which is only made clear by the great group we have here today.

I'm confident that this relationship will prove durable and long-standing, and that T&T will expand its role as a reliable, market-based energy producer, as well as a busy port-of-call along a vital energy supply route servicing the Western Hemisphere.

But doing so will require continued vigilance and strong commitments on the part of both our nations.  And that brings me to a final - and certainly a related - issue: all governments must play a clear leadership role in working with the private sector to maintain and adequately protect our critical energy infrastructure.

As I mentioned at the outset, this is one area of opportunity for strengthened collaboration between our two nations.

Last June I met with Prime Minister Manning, and we discussed this very issue.  As a result of that meeting, the U.S. Energy Department led an interagency effort to assist T&T with an LNG sector assessment focused on identifying areas of good practice as well as areas where corrective actions are needed.   The team conducted its assessment in January of this year.

Let me state clearly that the United States government is committed to continuing this effort.  We look forward to working with the government of Trinidad & Tobago - and, as importantly, with the private sector - to develop action plans to implement the recommendations contained in the assessment.
To that point, later this week, our two governments will host a Critical Infrastructure Workshop focused on the entire Caribbean Basin region, which I consider to be a very positive development, and yet another example of T&T's leadership role in this region.

What this points to is really a simple idea: if we are to solve our global energy challenges - and even turn them into real opportunities for our world - we need everyone involved.  That's really the bottom line.

Together, with the right leadership from governments around the globe, with open investment climates and supportive regulatory frameworks, with international collaboration to modernize and protect our energy infrastructure, with the talent of our world's scientists and engineers, and with the sustained capital and innovative power of our commercial sectors - which you all represent - we will solve this problem.  We will achieve a cleaner, affordable, and secure energy future for all people of the world.

I thank you very much for your time, and I'm happy to take your questions.

Location: Trinidad & Tobago

Media contact(s): Bethany Shively (202) 586-4940

Addthis