The Freundel Stuart administration is reporting a dramatic drop in the amount it spent on fuel imports last year when compared to 2014.
Addressing a ceremony at The Cliff last night to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the fuel distribution company Rubis, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler reported that Government spent approximately $452,400,000 on fuel imports for 2015, down approximately 30 per cent from the $645,400,000 spent in 2014.
Sinckler anticipated a further decline as “fuel prices on the international market . . . continue to experience downward pressure”, but he was conscious that prices could begin rising again.
As a result, he stressed that “it is therefore important that we do not lose sight of the importance of securing our energy policy”.
Oil prices climbed rapidly between 2000 and 2008 from under US$30 a barrel to almost US$150 per barrel, due mainly to growing global demands.
However, there has been a steady decline since 2014, with the price of a barrel of crude oil falling to around US$30 last year due to a number of factors, including slowing demand and increased production by some oil-rich nations.
Despite the falling prices, Sinckler said it was important to continue the push to expand the renewable energy sector, adding that Rubis must see itself not only as a “progenitor par excellence for the distribution of fossil based energy but also to put some strong investments in renewable energy”.
“I believe the next five years of our existence in Barbados should be shaped around this particular environment,” the minister said.
Chief Executive Officer of Rubis Mauricio Nicholls told reporters that with falling oil prices the company had witnessed an increase in consumption of its products.
He said customers were benefiting from the “substantially” lower prices at the pumps compared to two years ago.
“They are not as low as they are at the US but they cannot be at the same level as they are in the US for two reasons. Firstly, the logistical cost of bringing the products here is very high and the Barbados and Caribbean islands are very small markets compared to the global shipping and supply side. And also those products are subjected to, in many cases, more taxation than they are in the US. So it is a higher cost to bring the products here,” Nicholls said.
He later told Barbados TODAY the company would not rule out the possibility of getting involved in the renewable energy sector, but only after careful consideration.
“It is really not possible for me to anticipate if the answer would be yes or no, or how much we would be investing in renewables in the world in general and in the Caribbean specifically,” Nicholls said.