Estwick blames T&T for holding up gas project
The Barbados Government minister who is directly involved in a natural gas pipeline project with Trinidad and Tobago has accused the twin-island republic of dragging its feet on the initiative to protect its own interests.
Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick, the chairman of the committee in charge of the project, said he had been trying for years to get the two states to work out a deal, without much success.
His comments come on the heels of a natural gas shortage that affected several businesses, including restaurants, on the country’s south and west coasts in recent weeks.
Speaking at a Democratic Labour Party branch meeting in St James South last night, Estwick suggested that Trinidad and Tobago had not moved to engage Barbados enough because of the impact such an arrangement would have on reducing the cost of energy inputs in the productive sector, thereby driving down the price of manufactured products.
“I struggled between 2009 and now to get a gas commercial agreement from the Trinidad government. Former Prime Minister David Thompson took me with him. We met the players from British Petroleum, British Gas, TransCanada; we met all the players . . . trying to get this matter worked out,” he lamented.
“I would have had about nine or ten different trips. We signed intergovernmental agreements, we went to host government agreements, but we can’t get an agreement.
“It’s a matter of fighting for their own economic space and we have to fight for ours. My concern is, I know we have a lot of oil and gas out there and we have not been doing enough to get it out,” Estwick said.
Last week, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart announced a $7 million plan to bring relief to businesses on the west coast that were suffering from a shortage of natural gas.
That included having industrial users of natural gas immediately switch to alternative fuels for the short term, while two additional wells would be connected to the existing gas-gathering system of the Barbados National Oil Company Limited.