The consultations had identified the way forward towards a new pathway of industrialisation based on natural gas.
However the first imperative was that the country had to guarantee gas supplies to the prospective investor. This necessitated upstream development so, Amoco, the existing producer, was given a contract for gas field development in waters of approximately 200 feet. The second imperative was to create an entity that could administer this contract, as well as transport and sell the gas commodity to the proposed plants. This entity involved the creation of NGC as a state enterprise.
NGC’s Articles of Association clearly state that the Company was formed to be at the centre of the natural gas industry whose overall development for the benefit of the country was at stake.
In the 1975 Budget Speech the Prime Minister announced that the government or a designated agency would be the sole seller of gas using this as a ‘trigger’ for industrialsation. On March 6th 1975 Cabinet agreed on the formation of such an entity, and by August 7th it announced that the company’s name would be ‘The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited’, a wholly owned state company registered under the Company’s Ordinance with an authorized share capital of $45 million and to be operated as a Private Company.
On August 22nd 1975, the Company started its operations with its first board meeting comprising:
- Mr. Bernard V. Primus – Chairman
- Basharrat Ali – Director of Energy Planning
- Kamala Bhoolai – Ministry of Petroleum and Mines
- Sam A. Martin – Ministry of Finance
- Prof. Kenneth S. Julien – UWI
- Prof. G. Maxwell Richards – UWI
- Eldon G. Warner – General Manager, Industrial Development Corporation
- Knollys Ahloy – Chief Executive Officer, National Gas Company
In the first months, NGC’s business involved planning for the development of the company itself and servicing the 6 or so customers whose total gas sales for the year amounted to 370 mcf. For the year 1975 NGC’s sales revenue was $180,000.00 and profit, though marginal, was $19,000.00
Also prioritized was the management of the very important contract negotiated between the Government and Amoco for a supply of gas to T&TEC.
Conversely, by this time the Government Task Force, which had been mandated earlier to drive all the early gas-based investment initiatives was gaining firm investment decisions for the siting of ammonia, urea, iron and steel and methanol plants on the Point Lisas Industrial Estate.
For the purposes of this article, the NGC arm of the strategy, by early 1976, was clear, as it was simple; NGC was attempting to create the pipeline blueprint for gas development, or create the necessary infrastructure, including pipelines and other facilities to move natural gas from offshore to Point Lisas.