* Investment focuses on offshore exploration wells
* Trinidad and Tobago wants to increase oil, natgas output
PORT OF SPAIN, April 13 Canada's Niko Resources
(NKO.TO) and Britain's Centrica (CNA.L) will invest $70 million
in three offshore exploration wells this year in Trinidad and
Tobago, the Caribbean's leading oil and natural gas producer,
officials said on Wednesday.
The two companies, along with Trinidad and Tobago's
state-owned integrated energy company Petrotrin, are joint
venture partners in an offshore region known as Block 2ab.
Ajith Muralidharan, a manager at Niko Resources, said
drilling is scheduled to begin in September and that surveying
so far had "shown prospects with substantial potential."
The investment comes as Trinidad and Tobago seeks to lure
investment and increase oil and natural gas output in its vital
energy sector, which accounts for 45 percent of the country's
gross domestic product and 60 percent of its foreign exchange
Government statistics show oil production has fallen
steadily over the last decade from 145,000 barrels a day to
100,000 bpd over the last 10 years.
Natural gas reserves declined from 22 trillion cubic feet
(TCF) to just over 14.5 TCF during the same period.
Trinidad and Tobago's Energy Minister Carolyn Seepersad-
Bachan welcomed the drilling plan as a sign exploration may be
poised to pick up again after falling over the past two years
largely because of high drilling costs and the onset of the
(Editing by Kevin Gray and Jim Marshall)