Regional president of bpTT Norman Christie said the energy giant spent close to US$1.5 billion in T&T last year and is prepared to spent even more this year “If the above surface conditions are right.” He said this demonstrates the company’s confidence in the local energy sector even in an unfavourable economic climate.

Christie, who spoke yesterday at the T&T Energy Conference at the Hyatt Regency in Port-of-Spain, said the company had been affected by the downturn in energy prices and the local economy.

He said while downturns like the present one result in major dislocations for employees, contractors, communities, partners and the country, bpTT sees it “as an opportunity to demonstrate that our statement that we care is not a shallow one.”

“We will continue to invest in our corporate responsibility programmes targeted at education, arts and culture, enterprise development and support for the under privileged. While third party cost reductions are necessary, we have sought to engage our contractors in the spirit of partnership and work together to identify opportunities for greater efficiency,” he said.

He said once the environment remains competitive and T&T’s welcome mat stayed open, bpTT would continue works on the Juniper field development, new field development and its aggressive drilling and exploration programme in 2016.

Christie said the energy giant remained confident about the hydrocarbon potential of the Columbus Basin, and said “below the surface things look cautiously optimistic” but above the surface “we have some work to do to ensure that as a country we continue to incentivise the development of our natural resources and at the right pace."

He added: “We are focused on the future and view (the future) with optimism. All commodities have a price cycle and therefore we need to be focused on managing wisely through the down cycle but being prepared to take advantage of opportunities in the upcycle.”

Christie said he stood by his statement in early 2015 that industry stakeholders should not let a downturn go to waste.

“Think about the institutions that have made it through the bubbles bursting in recent times like the internet, banking, real estate and the auto industries, all come to mind. This can also be the narrative for T&T’s energy industry if we make the right decisions,” he said.

He said bpTT has survived by sticking to its values which include, safety, respect, courage, excellence and one team and the company has been improving its competitiveness.

“We have been managing our costs through waste elimination, becoming more efficient, simplifying our processes, fine tuning our organisational structure and treating job losses as a last resort,” he said.

“These efforts will allow us to balance our cheque book in the low price environment in the quickest possible time, which is necessary for the sustainability of our operations in T&T.”