Government blamed for natural gas shortage
The Freundel Stuart administration’s lack of action is to blame for the recent natural gas shortage at hotels and restaurants, a Barbados Labour Party (BLP) parliamentarian has alleged.
Kerrie Symmonds suggested at a meeting of his St James Central constituency branch last night that if Government had expanded its exploration for new oil wells the industry would not have been put in that situation.
“There has been no revitalization of the drilling programme. In fact, there has been a reckless disregard for the need to revitalize drilling in Barbados. For the last four to five years no steps, whatsoever, have been taken in Barbados to replenish oil and gas supply,” he argued.
Symmonds contended that when the BLP left office in 2008, the country was using 8,000 barrels of oil per day but was able to offset the consumption through its production of 1,200 barrels daily. However, he charged, “that production level has now dropped, without a word being said by this Government, to 375 barrels per day and most times it hovers between 350 and 375 barrels per day”.
“But production cannot fall by more than 50 per cent without Senator Darcy Boyce [Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Energy] and Stuart not saying a word to Barbados about the state of affairs,” Symmonds insisted.
The St James Central MP further complained that rather than expand exploration for oil in Barbados, the Government had taken scarce financial resources and invested in old and abandoned wells in Trinidad and Tobago.
“The Ministry of Energy never came out and [said] that was part of the grand design. These wells that they invested your money in are beneath what is called an economic threshold for the delivery of oil. The wells are at the end of their productive capacity. The Ministry of Energy is making Barbadians pay international prices for oil that is refined in Trinidad and Tobago. That explains why your electricity bills are going through the roof,” Symmonds further charged.
Addressing the issue of the offshore blocks for oil exploration, he noted that six years after announcing that two blocks of marine offshore space had been awarded to oil giant BHP Billiton, no work has been undertaken.
“For the past six years, BHP Billiton has been able to sit on the licences and hold Barbados’ off-shore blocks as part of their assets. BHP Billiton would have been able to leverage finance, putting themselves in a better financial position, while Barbadians see no benefit from it,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Symmonds has alleged that while Government speaks about developing a green economy, electric vehicles valued at $1 million remain on an English dock because Barbados’ Customs Department cannot agree on the amount of Customs duty to be imposed on them.