Jim Lee Young
After four years of being the voice of the South Chamber,
Dr Jim Lee Young seemed to have dropped out of the public
While he still moves around in energy circles and frequents
conferences, these days his time is divided between fixing
up his new boat and propelling his new company, Ten Degrees
North Energy Ltd (TDN).
The former chamber president says both enterprises have been
challenging this year. But, while his boat still has some
issues to be worked out, he has managed to get his company
off the ground.
A far cry from the frequent media appearances he was expected
to make as chamber president, Lee Young says he was always
expected to have the answers at his fingertips and be on call
for the medias many questions.
quite relaxing now, he admits, Its great.
Nobody is harassing me. Ive just faded into the woodwork
and am enjoying it.
He says there were some challenges but his most significant
accomplishment as chamber president was, giving it the
new focus and direction. I think the chamber lost its way
and direction and the new council managed to give it that
new start and started delivering value to our members.
Time has slowed for Lee Young, who pointed out that he travelled
to the UK nine times last year compared to just once this
These days, his spare time is spent on his new boat where
Lee Young, with his two sons in tow, hit the water on a regular
do water sports: diving, windsurfing, deep-sea fishing, water-skiing.
I just love being in the water, he says.
always grown up near the sea and when I came back to Trinidad
in 1999, the opportunity was there to get back into boating,
Lee Young, 42, grew up in Point Fortin. He was awarded a Trintoc
scholarship to study civil engineering at Imperial College
in England which he followed by finishing his PhD in coastal
engineering at Cambridge University.
different challenges; the boat tends to be a lot more physical
and the company more mental, intellectual, he says.
Representing TDN, he delivered a presentation titled, Local
private sector: Upstream and Other Opportunities, at
the Energy Caribbean conference held at Crowne Plaza last
He said that would be one of his last public appearances as
his focus was now on the company and making it a success.
TDN was formed when Venture Production, the Scotland-based
company, agreed to sell 60 per cent of its local operations
to its former T&T general manager, Lee Young, and Bruce
Dingwall, a founder and former chief executive of Venture.
Venture Production received US$11 million, US$10 million in
convertible sub-ordinated notes and 9,000 shares for its 40
per cent stake in TDN.
Forming a energy company in resource-rich Trinidad should
have been easy, but it wasnt.
Lee Young admits that if he had to repeat the process, he
would have traversed a different route.
Small companies face significant challengesaccess to
capital, existing asset base has limited growth opportunities,
rising cost base, access to skilled labour, access to technology
and a poor reputation.
At the start, he recalled, financial institutions were very
interested. That soon dissolved.
Energy funds were set up, but few were willing to take the
plunge, he says.
are improving, but banks are still failing in their understanding
of the sector, he notes.
He said he had secured the capital of three financial institutions.
Two bailed at the last minute, which left Guardian Holdings
Lee Young, TDNs chief executive and Dingwall own 35.6
per cent of the new company, while local financial services
giant, Guardian Holdings and other local private investors,
own 24.4 per cent with the remaining 40 per cent of the company
held by Venture Production.
He said access to capital is a problem often experienced by
indigenous energy service companies and independents and he
was disappointed by the outcome.
a long time, the Government and financial institutions have
talked about greater participation in the local
energy sector, but they arent willing to take risks,
He notes that historically there has not been a lot of investment
in the local upstream sector and while there is significant
liquidity, there are too few local investment opportunities.
capital markets are still very undeveloped. There is a very
poor understanding of risks versus reward, he states.
Lee Young said local independents usually looked to foreign
stock exchanges, such as Toronto, to raise equity because
the investing public in North America and London is far more
sophisticated and recognises the high returns that are possible
with investments in the upstream sector.
thats changed is the name and the ownership, but the
Venture assets remain the same, says Lee Young.
When the company was first announced in 2004, Lee Young had
said the acquisition represented a tremendous opportunity
for participation in the upstream energy sector.
assets that TDN are acquiring have significant remaining potential
and we believe that a local T&T-funded and managed company
will be best placed to unlock this potential.
addition, we believe that TDN will be optimally placed in
the local marketplace to access new opportunities with local
and international partners, he said at the time.
Lee Young said he welcomed the fact that Venture will continue
to be a significant shareholder as this demonstrates
confidence in the underlying strategy, the management team
and in the assets to deliver significant value to all our
He explained to the Business Guardian that Venture does not
have any direct operational involvement in TDNs operations
as its focus is on expanding its United Kingdom continental
is about creating value for its shareholders, he says.
The companys daily average net production of oil equivalent
for 2005 is expected to be 1,300 barrels a day.
It has proven and probable reserves of 8.2 million barrels
of oil equivalent, almost entirely oil, more than 70 per cent
of which are underdeveloped.
He said while the company is small, there are significantly
lower overheads than the larger companies so they can easily
recognise a profit.
He said TDN wouldnt sit on its laurels. Its looking
at bidding, in partnership with other companies, at two new
blocks in the deep Atlantic, which would be auctioned off
to begin exploration at the end of the first quarter of 2006.