Barbados initials major oil accord

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart today signed a deal for oil exploration in Barbados’ southern territorial waters that he said could lead to the island moving from being a net oil importer to an exporter in ten years.

Stuart signed the agreement with Australian company BHP Billiton, which will begin mapping these territorial waters in blocks named Carlisle Bay, measuring 2,498 square kilometres, and Bimshire, 2,506 square kilometres.

BHP Billiton Vice President Dr Niall McCormack signed on behalf of the firm, reputed to be the world’s largest mining and resources company, operating across the world for more than 100 years.

From left, BHP Billiton vice president Niall McCormack, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, with responsibility for Energy Senator Darcy Boyce, at this morning’s signing of the agreement
From left, BHP Billiton vice president Niall McCormack, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Energy Senator Darcy Boyce, at this morning’s signing of the agreement

“April 29, 2015 will be etched in our minds as a historic milestone in Barbados’ efforts to realize its offshore petroleum potential,” Stuart said before inking the deal in the conference room of Government Headquarters, Bay Street.

“Today, Barbados will make a bold step towards securing its energy future by signing two offshore exploration licences with the highly regarded international oil company, BHP Billiton.”

To stress the significance of this deal, the Prime Minister spoke of the drain which oil imports have on the island’s foreign exchange. He cited an annual average bill of $542.3 million for the ten years leading up to 2013, but noted that imported fuel consumption was growing.

To satisfy this growing demand, $807.8 million was spent on imports in 2012, the equivalent of 9.6 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.

“Expending such significant amounts of capital on the importation of fossil fuels has impacted Government’s ability to allocate the desired level of financial resources across other areas of critical national importance, such as education, health and social development,” he said.

But Stuart said that today’s agreement for exploration of two of Barbados’ 26 offshore blocks with potential hydrocarbon reserves, could herald an absolute turnaround in the nation’s relationship with petroleum products.

“In the event commercial quantities of hydrocarbons are discovered in Barbados offshore, our country can transition from being a net importer of fossil fuels to a net exporter within the next decade,” he said.

Barbados has marginal inland petroleum extraction operations at Woodbourne, St Philip but Stuart said this operation “is showing signs of steady decline, producing on average, 700 barrels of crude oil and 1.9 million cubic feet of natural gas per day”.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and BHP Billiton VP Niall McCormack chatting after signing the agreement.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and BHP Billiton VP Niall McCormack chatting after signing the agreement.

That declining figure contrasts with the island’s current consumption of just over 10,000 barrels of oil per day.

There is yet no official estimate on the amount of crude oil that might be lying in Barbados’ territorial waters, but experts believe the prospects are good for this island that lies 226.9 miles from the capital of oil-rich Trinidad and Tobago.

“Barbados’ offshore petroleum acreage remains largely underexplored, with both local and international geological experts agreeing that all the necessary elements for a productive petroleum system are present,” Stuart noted.

McCormack, said that the Carlisle and Bimshire blocks earmarked for exploration “lie within a geologic province known as the ‘Barbados Accretionary Prism’ in 1,200 to 2,000 meters of water, between 40 and 140 kilometers south-east of the island”.

He explained that exploration, leading ultimately to the drilling of wells, will be done in phases, using “a new 2D seismic survey programme of over 3,200 line kilometers”. That first survey will span three years.

“If the results of this initial survey are promising, BHP Billiton may then elect to proceed into the next exploration phase to acquire and process approximately 1,500 square kilometers of 3D seismic covering both blocks.”

He said once satisfied at this point, “the next step will be the drilling of at least one exploration well in each block”.

5 Responses to DEAL DONE

  1. Tony Webster April 30, 2015 at 5:27 am

    Please Lord, let us find some oil. Not too much…just “enough”, Lord. Send some, so we could “oil a few wheels” ’bout here..get the New LIAT bird…to takes-off.
    Although, right at de end of dat nice “up-lifting” and “hopeful”…and “expectant” speech”, I heard de the Right Honourable gentleman n’use de phrase “in the next decade” ( meanin’…like it might be ten years to see any change in evahbody pockets…IF dem find any oil)…I fuh one would like to express my thanks to him, for NOT insulting us out here… like Liz did last time around…and cautioning dem foolish people like me…we new-found “millionaires” (as she so described us).. not to lickpout dem new-found riches…but to spend our millions “sensibly”.

    So I thank you lord, fuh dat good speech from de P.M. ,I wud like to close wid one questshun: “Why it is, you does mek me remember all of them speeches? You is suppose to be a kind, loving, and forgiving Lord, and yet you does punish me so bad…wid a good memory?”

  2. Alex Alleyne April 30, 2015 at 7:20 am

    What is going to happen to the “Lets go green” idea and the renewable enegry thrust . I would think that all wheels should have been turning in that direction.

  3. Ramar Haynes
    Ramar Haynes April 30, 2015 at 7:52 am

    Once he knows, that in an economy where countries like the US are gearing towards renewable at a speedy rate, the demand for oil will decrease. Not only does the exploration of oil in our waters provide an environmental concern, but also poses the threat to our main money earning sector of tourism as our beaches would be at risk. I would hope that the PM would soon be paving the way for Barbados to be operated fully on renewable energy, not only will this protect our environment/beaches, but will contribute to the decrease I’m the bills of our people and safeguard or tourism industry.

  4. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner April 30, 2015 at 7:55 am

    Is this another sellout deal for Barbados and its people and is public going to see details of this deal remember they say’ the devil is in the details’can’t trust these people with anything.

  5. Jus Me April 30, 2015 at 9:03 am

    Hey Rawle>
    What you mean “IS THIS”??
    When ever it been different.?

    PS, Notice how “solid” and “wellfed” the PM look.
    How de neck stick out,sorta dropped “kitchen head”.
    Man Living well, real well.


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