On the eve of the 31st CARICOM Intersessional Heads of Government conference here in Barbados, Prime Minister Mia Mottley has issued a call for deepening of relations between Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states in the area of energy.
And in what could be seen as setting an example in that regard, Mottley today signed the second phase in a three-phase shared economic zone agreement with neighbouring Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago.
The two states signed the unitization agreement that would allow them to carry out seismic exploration at each other’s border and jointly operate a producing reservoir of oil and/or gas that is found on the border of the two states.
The first step was the signing of a non-binding memorandum of understanding in late August 2019 on the shared economic zone.
Mottley explained that the third step would be the individual unitization agreement that would set out terms upon which the countries would share any hydrocarbon find. This will depend on several factors.
“We recognize that as we go into the CARICOM Heads of Government meeting tomorrow that we would like to be able to see greater cooperation within the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas on the area of energy, be it fossil fuel-related energy or renewable energy, as we face the existential threat of climate crisis,” said Mottley.
“I hope that during the course of the next few months we will be in a position to recommend to heads, a framework, because as we speak the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas only refers to energy in one specific sentence that is simply that we will do our best to exploit the resources,” said Mottley.
Pointing to Guyana, Grenada and other territories that were either exploring or have discovered oil, Mottley said the deepening of ties between regional states in the area of energy would benefit citizens.
“As we go into this Heads of Government meeting what is it we are really trying to do? To make sure that we keep people at the centre of the integration movement, befitting in real ways and recognizing that you don’t reap corn without planting the seeds and tending the crop and making sure it has water and if necessary, fertilizer. To that extent, this is a work in progress,” said Mottley.
Describing the agreement as “a very significant step forward” between the two countries, Rowley said oil mining giant BHP has just completed a large survey regarding oil exploration in Trinidad and Tobago and they have “come up against a Barbados border”.
“If we do find hydrocarbon as we anticipate that we would given the geological prospects, it would be easier for us to be able to explore, exploit, produce and market any such product if we do it together,” he said.
Rowly said: “Time is of the essence because our economies demand that whatever might be out there we need to know as quickly as possible and exploit efficiently, effectively and sustainably as quickly as possible.”
Mottley pointed out that while an exploration licence was granted to BHP for exploration of the Carlisle Bay and Bimshire Blocks off the shores of Barbados, others were in the works.
She said that agreement came with a signature bonus that would see some $11 million being paid into government coffers by the end of this month.
“We see this as the definite turn of the corner,” said Mottley.