Barbados pursuing new opportuniites in lucrative oil sector
Barbados is seeking to own a piece of the Trinidad and Tobago oil and gas industry.
At the same time, officials have revealed that commercial quantities of the precious commodity have been detected offshore, to the north and south of the island.
Manager of the Barbados National Oil Company (BNOC) Winton Gibbs told Barbados TODAY negotiations were still in the early stages with Petrotrin, the national oil company of the twin island republic, with a view to reworking some of the existing oil wells there and possibly drilling new ones.
“We are speaking to Petrotrin. We are speaking to some partners in Trinidad to work some fields owned by Petrotrin, but these are early days. We have not agreed on anything as yet. We are not entirely happy with what is on the table, so we are still in the very early stage, and we are trying to get a better deal than what is presently on the table,” Gibbs explained.
“We want to rework some of the existing wells in Trinidad and possibly drill a couple new wells. The idea is to own oil and gas reserves outside of Barbados,” the BNOC manager informed this newspaper.
He said such a move would help boost this country’s foreign exchange and hopefully reduce the cost of imported fossil fuels.
Although Gibbs made it clear his company was not responsible for the local offshore oil exploration programme being pursued by Government, he said he was also aware of recent reports of substantial commercial reserves in Barbados’ waters.
“The geologists are of the view that there are substantial commercial quantities of oil and gas offshore. There are different blocks and they seem to be mainly towards the south of Barbados, but there are also blocks towards the north that seem to have substantial reserves. But I am not an authority on that,” he pointed out.
Gibbs did say, however, that what the geologists had found would put Barbados in a position to export oil.
“The quantities are in excess of Barbados’ requirements. There would be export potential there,” the National Oil Company boss added.
Nevertheless, he told Barbados TODAY that the time between exploration and production of such a find was a long process.
“I could see anywhere between eight to 10 years is the time frame that we would be looking at,” he explained.
While not speaking on behalf of the Division of Telecommunications and Energy, Gibbs said as far as he was aware, Government was in the final stages of negotiations with BHP Billiton, an Anglo-Australian multinational mining, metals and petroleum company headquartered in Melbourne.
“Barbados National Oil’s role there will be to manage the Government’s interests in that operation,” he said.
When contacted, acting Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Division of Energy Francine Blackman was much more guarded even though she acknowledged that Barbados had been negotiating with BHP Billiton since 2008 and had awarded that oil company two offshore blocks.
However, Blackman made it clear that discussions were still ongoing regarding an exploration licence.
She said that apart from BHP Billiton, it has not been in discussion with any other entity, either to conduct offshore research or exploration.
“The Ministry or the Government of Barbados, as I know, has not hired anybody to undertake any research that would confirm or not confirm that type of information that you have just suggested. Even if somebody says that they sent something to us, anybody can say they sent anything. . . But that will still have to be verified whether or not the information presented is credible,” the acting deputy PS stated.