* Agreement divides 10 TFC Loran-Manatee field
* Bilateral talks often stalled in the past
CARACAS Aug 16 Trinidad and Tobago and
Venezuela signed a long-awaited agreement in Caracas on Monday
to develop natural gas reserves on their maritime border.
The "unitization of reserves" accord gives Venezuela 7.3
trillion cubic feet (TCF) and Trinidad 2.7 TCF of the
Loran-Manatee field, which is estimated to hold 10 TCF.
Negotiations on developing the field, which straddles the
maritime frontier between the two oil producing neighbors,
stalled several times during recent years.
Trinidad lies just 7 miles (11 km) from Venezuela's most
eastern point but relations between the two Caribbean nations
were cool under former premier Patrick Manning, who was
replaced by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar in May.
"For Trinidad, this means the continuity of their
extraordinary plans for natural gas development," Venezuelan
Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez told reporters after the signing.
"Trinidad has been a pioneer in this sector for our
continent, and for Venezuela this means we will be able to have
access to the quantities of gas we have on our side," he said.
Unitization of reserves deals are aimed at avoiding and
resolving conflicts about how much belongs to each side.
Technical teams from both countries had already agreed how to
divide the gas reserves ahead of Monday's meeting.
Trinidad's Energy Minister Caroline Seepersad-Bachan told
Reuters last week that the signing of the deal would show how
both nations had matured in their relations. [ID:nN13206959]
"It is a new beginning for both peoples ... We will be
looking at others areas where we can also make agreements," she
told reporters on Monday in Caracas.
"Our exploration experience has not been as successful
recently as in previous years, and for us this deal is very
important to help in our production and refining of gas."
Venezuela gave Chevron Corp. (CVX.N) the green light
earlier this year to extract natural gas from the Plataforma
Deltana, which includes the Loran field. Chevron is a partner
with BG Group BG.L in the Manatee field on Trinidad's side.
The signing of the bilateral agreement comes at a time when
Trinidad and Tobago is looking for new energy resources to turn
around a steady decline in its natural gas reserves.
(Reporting by Marianna Parraga and Daniel Wallis; Editing by
Frank Jack Daniel and Sofina Mirza-Reid)