NGC’s strategy for better businessDecember 4, 2018
Mark Loquan, president of The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (NGC), talks to TOGY about how to address the gas supply bottleneck facing the country, the company’s portfolio diversification and opportunities to partner with entities abroad, as well as key areas across the group. Established in 1975, state-owned NGC aggregates and distributes Trinidad and Tobago’s gas resources.
• On the gas supply bottleneck in Trinidad and Tobago: “The only thing that could solve this bottleneck is looking at marginal fields with smaller or stranded gas reserves that are not necessarily a high priority for larger operators. This is one of the areas NGC is looking at closely and communicating as a high priority to the government.”
• On building up the company: “If you look at the way the entire organisation is functioning in talent building and recruitment, you can see we are taking on skills in geology, safety, procurement, business development and marketing and trading. Warehouse skills are being measured and mapped, and development plans are being executed in a very scientific way. We are trying to leave an organisation that will be around to contribute to the economy and national development in the future.”
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What caused the gas supply bottleneck and how is NGC addressing the situation?
In terms of the supply of our molecules, a number of the problems manifesting themselves now are actually a result of investments not being made in a timely manner upstream. Therefore, the supply bottleneck we are currently experiencing is the result of declining reserves. The upstream operators are now moving forward with investment programmes, but there’s a time lag before those investments will come into effect.
In the next few years, there will still be a supply and demand gap because a lot of announced projects that will come on stream – particularly Angelin, Savannah and Macadamia from BP – will provide an adequate supply of natural gas for the petrochemicals sector to meet contractual obligations and reduce current supply shortfall. Therefore, the only thing that could solve this bottleneck is looking at marginal fields with smaller or stranded gas reserves that are not necessarily a high priority for larger operators.
This is one of the areas NGC is looking at closely and communicating as a high priority to the government. If we depend only on these recent investments going forward, we may or may not sustain supply. We need these kinds of additional activities occurring in Trinidad.
In terms of solutions around that, in 2017, NGC brought a geologist on staff. He has been working very closely with the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries and looking at all these marginal and stranded fields, particularly on the southeastern side of Trinidad, near existing infrastructure. Those areas have been identified and we’re now at a stage where the discussion must move to the next level, involving the operator and acreage. We must also look at the particular incentives required to make the gas from smaller fields economical for the downstream industry.
How has NGC been diversifying its portfolio outside of Trinidad and Tobago?
In previous years, NGC’s focus has been local, and this is changing. Marketing and trading are areas in which NGC is experiencing changes in volumes and pricing. NGC is also trying to diversify its income portfolio.
In 2017, we started third-party trading for the first time, which means we don’t need to only market gas originating in Trinidad. We have leveraged state agreements between the governments of Trinidad and Egypt. We sourced gas, partnering with a trader and securing contracts to supply gas across the world. Marketing and trading were some areas where, as a state entity, we could partner with other state entities that needed gas. Egypt is changing now, but at the time, it was an interesting arrangement that showed we could think internationally.
We went to Ghana, Tanzania and Mozambique in 2017. Those areas have developed quite a lot in gas over the past five to 10 years. Ghana’s gas processing units are underutilised compared to our efficiency here at Phoenix Park Gas Processors Limited facility. We could look at potential synergies to determine if we can play a role in helping them to optimise as Ghana’s gas situation develops. The country will need a second gas processing unit.
What areas will NGC be concentrating on through 2019?
Part of preparing ourselves for this global approach is determining how we leave an organisation behind that is sustainable for the future. One area we are strengthening is asset integrity. We have spent some time across the group trying to work on areas that can be improved. In 2017, our score from DNV-GL was higher than the national average. Our work on this is ongoing, but it showed our efforts in that area were successful in one year’s time.
The safety focus across the group is also evolving. We’re giving more attention to process, safety management and emergency preparedness. We want the organisation to have a good foundation. Key staff have been trained on methodology from root cause analysis, so that when we do incident investigations, everyone is using the same methodology.
If you look at the way the entire organisation is functioning in talent building and recruitment, you can see we are taking on skills in geology, safety, procurement, business development and marketing and trading. Warehouse skills are being measured and mapped, and development plans are being executed in a very scientific way. We are trying to leave an organisation that will be around to contribute to the economy and national development in the future.
As far as technology in the organisation, we are implementing new options as a group, upgrading our SAP systems. We want to fully leverage all the facilities of that platform to expand efficiencies to the group as well as key stakeholders. One such tool is SAP Ariba, which will allow us to host e-auctions and streamline our entire procurement process.
We are also expanding on our communications portfolio, not just externally, but also internally. We have recently launched a podcast programme across the organisation. The podcasts are meant to provide a space for staff to share their learnings and knowledge from conferences, as well as expertise in their own area. This will work towards building a learning organisation. Our podcast is titled Frontline and it creates a way to connect with and engage the organisation.
We are embracing new technologies in all areas of company operations as we grow towards business sustainability.
For more information on NGC’s recent initiatives, see our business intelligence platform, TOGYiN.
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