The state-owned fossil fuel production and distribution firms are to be merged and rebranded as a “national energy corporation”, in line with the Government’s renewable energy push, Minister of Energy Wilfred Abrahams declared today.
The Barbados National Terminal Company Oil Limited (BNTCL), the state fuel distributor, along with the Government’s other fossil fuel companies would eventually fall under one umbrella body, he told journalists at the BNTCL’s Fairy Valley, Christ Church headquarters to give details on an upcoming pipeline repairs project.
Abrahams said the change would come into effect as Barbados continues to move towards its goal of 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
He said: “Right now we have a number of oil and gas, or fossil fuel companies and that is so because that is what we use or have used up to now. The Government’s policy is to transition to 100 per cent fossil fuel-free country in terms of electricity generation by 2030.
“The BNOC [Barbados National Oil Company Limited] and the related companies are quickly transitioning to energy companies, so you will see a rebranding of what are our oil and gas companies now, to being energy companies which also trade in renewable energy, which are into solar photovoltaic, which are looking at the wind and exploring ocean tech, so the shift is not just with the Ministry. We are doing everything across the spectrum of our related companies to ensure the buy-in.
“So very soon the BNOC will not be the BNOC and all the associated companies are probably going to fall under the umbrella of something like the Barbados National Energy Company or a name which similarly reflects its commitment to energy as opposed to oil and gas.”
In addition to BNTCL and oil producer BNOCL, the state fully owns and controls the natural gas utility, the National Petroleum Corporation (NPC).
In the final year of the 2008-2018 Freundel Stuart administration, the then prime minister announced a planned merger of the NPC with BNOCL.
At the time, Stuart said the NPC had been forced to operate under “crippling revenue circumstances”.
In today’s update on the Government’s renewable energy policy, Energy Minister Abrahams announced that work had already begun on its streetlight replacement project, where LED lights were being installed. He also issued a challenge for research and development innovation on alternative energy technologies.
But he said the move to 100 per cent renewable energy did not mean that technology which relied on fossil fuels should be discarded, such as diesel and gas-propelled vehicles.
He called on Barbadians to be innovative and find ways to transform automotive technology where it could be powered by electricity.
He said this was his challenge to students of the Barbados Community College, Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology and the University of the West Indies.
Abrahams said: “People keep thinking that we have to scrap all the vehicles that we have currently and buy brand new electric vehicles. Why not think instead that this is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to figure out how to convert vehicles.
“If we get a series of garages or mechanics in Barbados that crack how it is to efficiently, effectively and cheaply convert a fossil fuel vehicle into an electric vehicle, then the possibilities are endless. Barbados would be the startup and the rest of the world would be their market.”
It was not immediately clear if the Government intended to fund homegrown research and development in these alternative fuel technologies.