A partnership of UK supermajors BP and Shell has reached agreement with the Trinidad & Tobago government to explore three deep-water blocks, Minister of Energy & Energy Industries Stuart Young confirmed on Thursday.

The duo is understood to be eyeing gas reserves that could help support the Caribbean’s nation’s liquefied natural gas project and also supply feedstock for petrochemical industries.

The companies have agreed terms for exploration blocks 25a, 25b and 27 with the Trinidad & Tobago government, however, they have yet to finalise a deal for Block 23, for which they also bid.

Young admitted that the negotiations were complex with the UK energy heavyweights because the blocks had not previously been explored and due to the challenges involved in deep-water development.

“The consortium can confirm that they are close to finalising negotiations with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago relating to deep-water blocks offshore Trinidad & Tobago,” BP and Shell said in a joint statement.

The agreement comes almost nine months after Trinidad's government rejected bids originally submitted by the consortium for failing to meet minimum thresholds.

Shell and BP amended their original bids to include the drilling of at least three deep-water wells under a proposed minimum work campaign. The proposed workscope reportedly also includes 3D seismic surveying.

Shell and BP are both partners in Trinidad’s Atlantic LNG export project. The project has nameplate capacity of 15 million tonnes per annum although output of late has been around two-thirds of that because of a lack of feed gas, with one of the four trains having been offline since late 2020.

The Cabinet approved the award of three deep-water blocks to a consortium of BP and Shell on 8 September, Young said, adding that an official signing ceremony is planned for 26 September.

However, the office of the attorney general has to sign off on the deal before the licences can be awarded, Reuters reported.