The Barbados Government is riding high in confidence that a just signed petroleum exploration agreement will produce commercial quantities of crude oil in the island’s offshore.
Minister of Finance Christopher Sinckler made known the administration’s self-assurance at a cocktail reception Wednesday night to celebrate the signing of the agreement, when he added that the exploitation of possible fossil fuel resources would not come at the expense of a push for green energy, as the two would be used together for the island’s security.
His optimism was mirrored in a statement by vice-president of the exploration company BHP Billiton, Niall McCormack, who assured all that so confident was this world-leading mineral mining firm, that it was in for the long haul with Barbados.
“We are celebrating a partnership between BHP Billiton and Barbados that we hope will last for a very long time . . . . This is the first step in a long journey that will take many years through to the first exploration well,” he told cocktail invitees that included leading Barbados businesspersons and Government officials at Hilton Barbados.
And, if there was any doubt about BHP Billiton’s intentions, the Division of Energy and Telecommunications Acting Permanent Secretary Jehu Wiltshire leaked that officials of the company was already seeking more than the two blocks of Barbados’ offshore seabed they were licensed to explore in an agreement signed with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart earlier in the day.
“I was told this evening that BHP Billiton has indicated an interest in some additional blocks, which goes to show that the potential for finding hydrocarbons in the Barbados acreage, seems to be very definite,” Wiltshire said.
The Barbados offshore seabed is plotted into 26 blocks.
Standing in for Stuart at the Wednesday night function, the Minister of Finance Minister said: “If there is anything there to be had, if there are any commercial quantities, BHP will find it. If they don’t find it, then trust me it probably is not there. That is how confident we are in this.”
He added: “We have now set a platform in which all Barbadians . . . [can] explore the frontiers of a new form of development in Barbados, and we do so confident that we have chosen the right partners; that they have the correct technology, the know-how and the tenacity to deliver.”
Sinckler said the deal with Billiton “opens up an opportunity for other players in the market to come into Barbados and . . . to explore the avenues through which they too can sign on”.
But, he said Government’s declared drive for green energy development was not being neglected.
“This is just one part of an overall energy strategy for Barbados, a strategy that portends to deliver for us energy security, going forward.
“And just as we are working hard on the exploration of hydrocarbons, we are working just as hard on building out the alternative energy sector to push forward the green economy in Barbados . . . and hopefully building a symbiotic relationship between the exploration for fossil fuel and the development of an alternative energy sector in Barbados.
“And I believe, confidently, that within the next 25 to 50 years we will be able to produce energy security for Barbados.”