The emergence of the petroleum, petrochemical, refining, and processing plants, among others during the past one hundred years in Trinidad has impacted on the environment. Vegetation has been removed to accommodate these industries and at the same time the ecosystem was disturbed. The wildlife, birds, insects and other reptiles had to venture into other areas convenient to their lifestyle. The tributaries, which continue to empty into the major rivers nearby, have been affected by either sediment or effluent from the various plants and this has interfered with the aquatic life.
Indeed the country would like to continue receiving cheap abundance of gasoline; the country would like to lead the world in the exportation of ammonia, urea, methanol, liquefied petroleum gas; people would like to have a choice of what soaps, detergents, plastics, or other by-products they use; but everyone must be mindful of the adverse effect these and other industries are having on the environment.
During the last ten years there has a closer view on the impact industries are having on the environment. The new industries that are emerging have more stringent rules and laws to follow now, than the ones that were constructed during the last century. Reports such as the Environment Impact Assessments, and Base Line Studies now play an integral part in the application to construct a new plant. Companies now have to apply for Certificate of Environmental Clearance before any new plant can be built, new well can be drilled, and existing plant can be modified, expanded or abandoned.
The many industries, including the energy industry, that exist in Trinidad have changed the landscape of the environment both in a positive and a negative manner. But now there is a culture evolving namely "we cannot operate like we did in the past." Indeed, profit is the controlling factor for the energy industry to survive, but not at the expense of the environment. The paper presented herein looks at the challenges facing the energy industry as it tries to survive the stern tests of the environmentalists.