Visions of palm trees and beautiful beaches usually come to mind when speaking of Trinidad and Tobago. While certainly known for its tourism, Trinidad and Tobago is also a powerhouse in oil and natural gas production.
According to the CIA World Factbook, Trinidad and Tobago ranks 45th in world oil production, placing the country behind Germany and before Italy. The tiny islands produce 151,600 barrels of oil per day, drawing from 728.3 million barrels of proven reserves.
While crude oil production has been declining since the early 1980’s, natural gas discoveries have reinvigorated the industry. With the advent of LNG, (Liquefied Natural Gas) natural gas is cheaply and easily shipped to nearby consumer markets. In 2010, Trinidad and Tobago exported 20.41 billion cubic meters of natural gas, making the country the 11th largest exporter in the world.
Trinidad and Tobago has been careful to avoid the “oil curse” some countries experience when they sell their black gold. In Trinidad and Tobago’s situation, oil and natural gas revenues comprise 40% of GDP and 80% of exports. The paradox is that this huge industry only employs 5% of the population. Understandably, officials have been working hard to diversify the economy and prepare for the day when natural resources run out.
The strategy seems to be working, as Trinidad and Tobago has a stellar reputation amongst multinational corporations and is welcoming towards business travelers. The CIA World Factbook estimates Trinidad and Tobago’s per capita GDP to be $21,200, solidly middle income and one of the most prosperous economies in The Caribbean and Latin America.