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Trinidad's state-owned petroleum company says it has discovered 48 million barrels of crude oil off the island's southwest coast.

Petrotrin President Designate Khalid Hassanali said late Thursday that it is the company's biggest discovery in a decade. He said the crude oil is located in 60 feet (18 meters) of water and described it as a combination of light and heavy oil.

Prime Minister Kamla Persaud-Bissessar said the anticipated revenue would be used for several development projects.

"There will be no squandering of these very precious resources," she said.

While she anticipated that Trinidad and Tobago would receive a substantial economic boost, local economists were more reserved.

"It is far too early to make a true assessment of the Petrotrin find and its impact on the economy," economist Gregory McGuire said.

Hassanali said the discovery was made last year, adding that officials do not know yet when drilling and commercial production would start.

Trinidad's oil production has fallen in the last two decades to about 97,000 barrels per day from a peak in the 1970s of more than 200,000 barrels per day.

Hassanali said local refineries have the capacity to process 150,000 barrels per day, but that only 50,000 of that production comes from local sources.

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