Latin America Reports

Trinidad's economy is growing

By Charles W. Thurston | October 30, 2008

Trinidad growth heats industrial coatings demand.

The robust economy of oil and gas-producing Trinidad & Tobago is driving a strong demand for industrial coatings, which are primarily being supplied by imports, according to a source at Sissons Paint, in Chaguanas. The latest large contract for industrial coatings went to ShawCor's Bredero Shaw division for approximately $51 million worth of concrete weight coatings for an estimated 50 miles of Trinidad & Tobago National Gas Co.'s (NGC) pipeline projects.

Bredero Shaw plans to move two compression coat technology concrete weight coating plants to Trinidad and begin coating during second quarter 2009.

The project includes the 36-inch northeastern offshore pipeline, from BHP Billiton's offshore facility to NGC's network, and includes the 12-inch Tobago pipelines from BHP Billiton's facility to Cove Estate on the island's south coast.

Oil and gas, methanol, ammonia and urea production will help expand the economy by 5.5% this year, following an exceptional 11.9% GDP growth rate in 2007.

Trinidad is the world's fifth-largest producer of liquid natural gas and the largest supplier of LNG to the U.S., so much more pipeline development is planned. Prime Minister Patrick Manning is promoting a plan to build a $500 million natural gas pipeline network up the Antillean Islands chain to Puerto Rico, predicting a 30% energy cost savings for the linked islands.

Another pipeline, to deliver Venezuelan crude oil to Trinidad for downstream processing, has been proposed by Petrleos de Venezuela S.A., but lacks sufficient private sector investors, thanks to Venezuela's renewed habit of nationalizing industries.

In addition, a major industrial project that would use natural gas feedstocks is the proposed $1 billion man-made Oropouche Bank industrial island, being proposed by the country's National Energy Corp. NEC recently hired Italian engineering firm Technital to perform preliminary design work for the island which would cover approximately 3,500 acres. Among energy-intensive projects planned for the new island is an aluminum smelter. Iron, ethylene, propylene and other petrochemical projects are now on the drawing boards.

At this point, imported industrial coatings have "saturated the market," the Sissons source says. Sissons, a subsidiary of Venezuela's Corimon, does not produce heavy industrial coatings in Trinidad, but does produce light industrial maintenance coatings under the Sissons Industrial Coatings brand, including oil-based enamels, the source says. Sissons primarily produces architectural coatings in Trinidad and in Grenada, according to Roger Brathweaite, a Sissons color consultant in St. Georges, Grenada.

Trinidad & Tobago's total paint market, including all segments, amounted to approximately two million gallons, another Sissions source suggested several years ago. If the paint and coatings market has accompanied GDP expansion, it would be close to 2.75 million gallons now.

The country's $8 billion-plus economy provides an annual per capita income of $6,200 for its 1.3 million inhabitants, which is very high for the region.

Government sponsorship of housing development could help raise architectural segment sales, at the same time as industrial and infrastructure spending-for roads and the airport-will boost industrial coatings sales.

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