No shutdown for BNOCL, says Stuart
Government has given the assurance that it has no intention of shutting down the Barbados National Oil Company (BNOCL) as it presses forward with initiatives to create a renewable energy business and investment model.
News of this came yesterday from Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart, while leading off debate in the House of Assembly on the Electric Light & Power Bill. Stuart, who is Minister responsible for Energy, said while the proposed legislation provided for other players to supply and generate renewable energy and lessen this country’s dependency on fossil fuel, the BNOCL would continue its operations. He said the company would still pursue its onshore and offshore oil explorations.
Prime Minister Stuart said, too, that with a liberalised energy sector which will now allow other entities to break the more than 100-year-old monopoly of the Barbados Light & Power Company, Barbados would become less exposed to the foreign exchange risks, brought on by external sources.
He also suggested that once this energy efficiency and conservation framework went into full swing, electricity costs to householders and businesses will drop.
The Prime Minister stated that this country was lopsidedly dependent on the importation of fossil fuels.
“Our reality is that in order to generate electricity, we have had to depend lopsidedly on the use of fossil fuel. Of all the fossil fuel that we import – and of course we have had to import most of it – 50 per cent is used for the purpose of power generation, another 33 per cent is used to power transport, and all of this in the context of the fact that we do not produce to any respectable extent, our own fossil fuel,” advised the Government leader.
“We cannot control the price of oil,” he continued, “and because we cannot control the price of oil, and because the oil market has been as volatile as it has been over the last decade, the last 15 years . . . we have had to adjust our way of life, to meet the requirements of oil prices over which we have no control.”
He argued that the prices have been capricious between 2005 and 2012, resulting in a doubling of the cost of imported fossil fuels.
Stuart reasoned that Barbados can no longer continue to “thread” its way through “this tortuous jungle” like a blind man, in the economic sense.
“We have decided we cannot continue, in circumstances where we do not produce oil in the quantities that would satisfy our local demand, to depend so lopsidedly on it,” the Government leader asserted.
“This is not another way of saying that we can [get] away from dependence on oil, and in fact I do not know that we have any intention to do so, since the Barbados National Oil Company continues its exploration efforts on shore, and Barbados is trying to attract investors, offshore, so that, if possible, deal with this problem in a more many-sided way,” Stuart stated.
He said Government was therefore not condemning oil, but rather needed to have a more sensible energy mix,
so the island could manage its affairs with greater certainty and have a more predictive capacity.
Stuart also informed the House that the proposed legislation would bring order to the supply and generation of renewable energy by requiring licences for suppliers with a certain size operation. The issue of connectivity, he disclosed, has also been dealt with, in the same way it was handled when the telecommunications monopoly was liberalised.
The bill was deferred to further discussion.