MAJOR ENERGY DEAL – Barbados and BHP Billiton sign two offshore exploration licences
Barbados has made a bold step towards securing its energy future, by signing two offshore exploration licences with the highly regarded international oil company, BHP Billiton.
Prime Minister of Barbados, the Rt. Hon. Freundel Stuart, acknowledged the above during a ceremony held for the signing of the two exploration licences by the Government of Barbados and BHP Billiton Petroleum, at Government headquarters yesterday. The two offshore blocks awarded to BHP Billiton are Carlisle Bay and Bimshire.
Upon approval by the Government of an environmental impact assessment and environmental plan, BHP Billiton will commence the first three-year phase, which includes conducting a 2D seismic survey on the two exploration blocks. With favourable results, BHP Billiton may enter an optional second phase of three years to perform a 3D seismic survey, followed by an optional third phase of two years to drill exploration wells.
Speaking about the initiative, the Prime Minister revealed that BHP Billiton, a leading global resources company headquartered in Australia, emerged as the only successful bidder when Barbados launched its first Offshore Licensing Round back in 2007, offering 24 of 26 blocks in the island’s offshore territory, in the bidding process. The company was awarded two blocks in 2008. Since that time, he said, the Government and BHP Billiton have been engaged in intense, yet fruitful negotiations, to finalise the exploration licences for the two blocks.
Looking inland, the Prime Minister acknowledged that the island’s maturing Woodbourne Oil Field, which was previously discovered in the 1960s, is showing signs of a steady decline, producing on average 700 barrels of crude oil and 1.9 million cubic feet of natural gas, per day. More critically, he said, during the period 2003-2013, Barbados’ average annual fuel import bill stood at Bds$542.306 million and in 2012, reached a staggering peak of Bds$807.813 million, which equated to 9.6 per cent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
“Expending such significant amounts of capital on the importation of fossil fuels has impacted Government’s ability to allocate the desired level of financial resources across the other areas of critical national importance, such as education, health and social development,” he commented.
“It is in this context that the signing of the offshore exploration licences for the Carlisle Bay and Bimshire blocks becomes increasingly important to Barbados’ energy future and the development of its people, goods and services,” he added.
The Prime Minister further noted that in the event that commercial quantities of hydrocarbons are discovered offshore, the country can transition from being a net importer of fossil fuel, to a net exporter, within the next decade.
Witnessing the signing carried out by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Vice President of Exploration at BHP Billiton Petroleum, Dr. Niall McCormack, was Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler; Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe; Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Senator Darcy Boyce; CEO of the Barbados National Oil Company, Winston Gibbs; and Australian High Commissioner, His Excellency Ross Tysoe, amongst others.