OREANDA-NEWS. Caracas is reviving a plan to ship its offshore natural gas to Trinidad and Tobago?s underutilized Atlantic liquefaction plant, but a commercial scheme to develop the Venezuelan gas remains elusive.

At a meeting between Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and Trinidad?s Prime Minister Keith Rowley in Port of Spain yesterday, the two governments agreed to set up a joint venture company to market the LNG using gas from the Venezuelan side of the 10.25 trillion ft3 cross-border Loran-Manatee field.

Trinidad also agreed to purchase gas from Venezuela's Dragon field for processing into LNG.

Chevron is the longtime designated operator on both sides of Loran-Manatee, and for Dragon, but the fields have never moved into development mainly because of border issues, Venezuela?s challenging contract terms and a lack of Venezuelan capital for required infrastructure.

Chevron had no immediate comment on yesterday?s agreements.

For Venezuela, which is in the throes of a deepening economic and political crisis, the Trinidad deal offers a chance to monetize its gas and export LNG for desperately needed hard currency. For Trinidad, the arrangement would help to offset an accelerating shortage of domestic gas that is hurting the country?s industrial sector.

Atlantic, owner of the 14.8mn t/yr liquefaction plant at Port Fortin, has not commented publicly on the agreement. Atlantic is owned by BP, Shell, China's sovereign wealth fund CIC unit Summer Soca and Trinidad?s state-owned NGC.

Neither Maduro nor Rowley indicated when Atlantic would begin processing the gas from the cross-border field.

"These arrangements – including volumes and delivery schedules and methods of delivery - will be the subject of consultations between both governments and Atlantic over the next few weeks," an energy ministry official told Argus.

The two governments had earlier agreed that 73.75pc of the Loran-Manatee deposits belong to Venezuela and the other 26.25pc to Trinidad. The field covers block 6 on the Trinidadian side of the maritime border and block 2 on the Venezuelan side.

For the Dragon field, a pipeline will be constructed to the Shell-operated Hibiscus platform in the North Coast marine area to supply the gas to Trinidad's gas network, Trinidad?s energy minister Nicole Olivierre said.

The Dragon field is part of Venezuela?s undeveloped Mariscal Sucre offshore gas project.

Maduro earlier visited Jamaica on a tour widely seen as a diplomatic offensive aimed at offsetting growing international pressure on the government to accept a presidential recall referendum.

The Venezuelan delegation featured energy minister Eulogio Del Pino and foreign minister Delcy Rodriguez.

During the visit to Kingston, the governments of Venezuela and Jamaica pledged to resuscitate a $1.5bn plan to upgrade the 35,000 b/d Petrojam refinery.

Jamaica's state-owned PCJ holds 51pc of the refinery, and its Venezuelan counterpart PdV holds 49pc.