As the southernmost island in the Caribbean Basin, Trinidad and Tobago lies just 11km off the coast of South America. This location places the twin island nation outside of the Atlantic hurricane belt and it also places the country approximately 19 km away from the international shipping lanes used by vessels going to and from the USA and European Union. Additionally, the Panama Canal lies 2,011 km east of the country. The location of Trinidad and Tobago at Latitude 10° 20' 00" and Longitude 62° 00' 00" means that the resource rich countries of Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and Brazil are all within close proximity.
The main island of Trinidad has the distinction of having coast lines that border three bodies of water. Its northern coast is ringed by the Caribbean Sea, its eastern coast faces the Atlantic Ocean and its western coast is encompassed by the Gulf of Paria. The Gulf of Paria is a 7,989 km2 shallow inland sea of which Trinidad and Tobago has legal jurisdiction over 2,940km2. This Gulf offers a well sheltered body of water with 156kms of coastline and it serves as an ideal location for port and harbour facilities and indeed currently there are two international container ports, a port serving a 175,000 bpd oil refinery and a port serving one of the largest LNG facilities in the western hemisphere all within the Gulf.
Initially developed and grown as a support sector for the country’s oil and gas industry, the maritime sector in Trinidad and Tobago now provide a broad range of specialized services. These include liquid bulk transport of ammonia, methanol and LNG, offshore rig maintenance and repair, pipe laying services, waste oil collection barges and high speed crew and emergency response systems. The supporting infrastructure for the maritime sector has grown and diversified to include shipping for trade, marine commerce, port operations and marine tourism – yachting and marinas.
Reasons to Invest in T&T’s Maritime Sector:
- Low Risk – Well Sheltered body of water that is the Gulf of Paria. This Gulf offers the protection necessary to establish naturally protected ports and harbours allowing for lower risk of loss and accident to vessels and cargo.
- Low Operational Costs - Trinidad and Tobago offers one of the lowest cost locations for utilities within the Caribbean and Latin American region. Based on a cost comparison by FDI Benchmarks (A service of Financial Times Limited 2015) Trinidad and Tobago was the second cheapest location within the Caribbean and Latin American region when electricity, water, telecoms and gas costs were compared.
- Bunkering Facilities - Trinidad and Tobago as an international energy player has both the availability of fuel and location advantage due to its geographic position to service the bunkering needs of large and small vessels in a competitive manner.
- Existing Infrastructure and Maritime Clusters - Trinidad and Tobago has well developed maritime clusters, with over 13 marinas and a wide range of essential goods and services that are readily available and accessible.
- Skilled workforce – Trinidad and Tobago has a workforce of 649,100 persons who all speak English as their native tongue. This workforce is highly skilled due to the national policy of universal free tertiary education which produces 7,600 graduates annually in various programmes including Masters, Bachelors and certificates and diplomas within the technical and vocational fields. The Maritime sector can engage the services of international standard engineers, welders, seamen, pilotage and stevedoring personnel amongst others.
- Maritime training facilities - Tertiary education institutions in Trinidad and Tobago administer well-developed suites of training programmes built to enhance the capacity of the maritime professionals. Courses of relevance to the Maritime sector include
- Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical, Civil, Electrical & Chemical Engineering; Nautical Science
- Master’s Degree in Operational Maritime Management, Port and Maritime Management
- Diploma in Maritime Operations
Additionally, 16 local institutions produce graduate welders and 2 local schools train new commercial divers.
- Fiscal Incentives – Trinidad and Tobago offers a range of incentives to investors and within the Maritime sector there is the availability of Import duty concessions and value added tax exemption for locally registered firms engaged in ship building and ship repair. There is also the Free Trade Zones Programme. This programme offers free-zone status to qualifying companies who can avail themselves of incentives including corporation tax exemption, customs duty exemption, Value added tax exemptions and exemptions on work permit costs.
Quick Facts on T&T’s Maritime Sector:
- Third highest container port throughput in the English Speaking Caribbean:
Trinidad and Tobago with its Port of Port of Spain and Port of Point Lisas container terminals handled 547,195 TEUs in 2012.
- Home to 2 main commercial ports, 2 ports dedicated to the energy industry and 1 offshore floating iron-ore transshipment facility:
Countries with transshipment ports face significantly lower transport costs than the regular ports of smaller islands. There are an additional 7 ports and 5 harbours which serve specialized communities and industry niches such as cement manufacturing and downstream energy projects.
- Presence of international shipping lines:
Trinidad and Tobago is serviced by the top international shipping lines including APM-Maersk, Mediterranean Shipping Company, CMA CGM Group and Hapag-Lloyd/ CSAV. Others international lines that call on Trinidad and Tobago include Bernuth, Zim, Crowley, Hamburg Sud, Cosco and Seaboard. Inclusive of these, over 63 shipping lines utilize ports in Trinidad and Tobago transporting containerized cargo to and from the US, Europe, UK and the Far East.
- Transshipment sub-hub for the Caribbean:
Trinidad and Tobago has evolved into a regional transshipment sub-hub, servicing the other islands in the Southern Caribbean.
Trinidad’s naturally sheltered harbor provides the required safe access, anchorage and shelter while providing easy access to multiple yachting destinations. It provides all the necessary safety, services and amenities as well as a safe harbor and insurance coverage during the hurricane season.
Built principally on servicing the local energy industry and growing non energy transshipment trade, the Maritime sector has since developed competitive ancillary sub-sectors in bunkering, marine construction and ship repair. With the expansion of the Panama Canal and the impending construction of the Nicaraguan Canal opportunities exist within Trinidad and Tobago to build on the past successes of the sector and develop viable and competitive Maritime clusters in:
- Dry Docking and Ship Repair
- Offshore Bulk Trans-Shipment
- Marinas and Ship Storage facilities
- Port Operations
- Leisure Marine/Yachting
Other Investment opportunities exist for entities in:
- Marine Construction
- Ship Building
- Cruise Ships
Projects for Investment
Dry Docking Project: Sullivan Island, Port of Spain
A major dry docking facility has been proposed for Trinidad and Tobago within the Gulf of Paria and just off the coast of the capital city of Port of Spain. This project involves the construction of a 140-acre dry docking facility and all ancillary infrastructures. Currently the Western Hemisphere is home to only 15 per cent of the global dry docking capacity. As such, large numbers of ships operating on this side of the globe utilize dry docks in the Far East and Europe to carry out their maintenance and repairs.
This project would provide ready convenient access in the Western Hemisphere, to Dry Docking facilities for mega ships which are necessary for insurance, classification, maintenance and fuel efficiency of all classes of vessels. Additionally, the availability of a large production capacity of LNG in Trinidad will allow for a focus on LNG conversions and LNG Bunkering at the proposed Sullivan Island facility.
 Alphaliner-Top 100, Operated fleets as per 05 March 2015
For more information on opportunities in this sector contact:
Mr. Craig Watkins
Tel: 1(868) 675-1989 Ext. 2238