A promised hike in the price of natural gas is now in effect.
In a notice appearing in the press today, the National Petroleum Corporation (NPC) announced it had increased its prices of natural gas to both domestic and commercial customers effective July 6.
For domestic households, the rate will move from $1.48 per cubic metre to $1.70 per cubic metre.
The NPC says the rate increase will also affect the fees associated with obtaining the service. The metre rental fee for domestic customers will move from $3 to $5; deposit on metre testing will move from $5 to $25; the installation fee will increase by $50 from $100 to $150; while the reconnection fee will now $50 up from $25.
In May this year, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart had warned that “some kind of rate increase” would be coming to help NPC meet its financial obligations and effectively carry out its mandate.
“We have to take into consideration a debt which it owes to the BNOCL [Barbados National Oil Company Limited], which at present stands in excess of $11 million and its inability too, to service, maintain, replace and or reposition old and unsecure pipeline infrastructure,” the prime minister said, while lamenting that the state-run entity had been forced to function under “crippling revenue circumstances”.
But opposition Senator Wilfred Abrahams had warned the Government that is was the wrong time to impose a natural gas hike because too many Barbadians were suffering.
The NPC says the rate increase, the first for domestic customers in 15 years and for commercial customers in 23 years, is a result of rising operational costs, a reduction in the availability of indigenous gas from the local wells and the cost of expansion which has increased significantly over the past years.
NPC adds that it is planned that the long term benefit of this rate increase will redound to the further expansion of the network, as it plans to increase output by the laying of pipes to allow more customers access to natural gas.