Above: Barbados (CJ Photo)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
The Caribbean continues to look for oil off its shores, and now Barbados is continuing its exploration with a new agreement.
The country announced this week that it had signed two offshore exploration licenses with major global oil firm BHP Billiton.
Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart signed the documents with BHP Billiton VP of exploration Dr Niall McCormack on Wednesday.
The licenses cover two blocks — Carlisle Bay and Bimshire, each about 40 kilometres southeast of the island.
The total area covered under the licenses is about 5,000 square kilometres in waters ranging from 1,200 to 2,000 metres in depth.
“Signing these two exploration licenses will send a clear message to the industry that Barbados is open for business and is serious about the development of its offshore petroleum sector,” Stuart said. “In addition, Barbadian nationals stand to reap early benefits on execution of the licences through the negotiated provisions for annual training, scholarships, local content, coastal and marine environment research and the acquisition of critical equipment and software.”
Stuart said the government had taken “great care” to formulate a “robust regulatory regime and legislative framework that would ensure all offshore exploration and production activities were undertaken in accordance with the highest industry standards.”
“The Government will expect no less than the highest commitment to the preservation and protection of our coastal and marine environment, as well as the communities in which BHP will operate,” he said.
Barbados first awarded BHP the two blocks in 2008, although it took “intense, yet fruitful” negotiations to finalize the exploration, Stuart said.
“Today, Barbados’ offshore petroleum acreage remains largely underexplored with both local and international geological experts agreeing that all the necessary elements for a productive petroleum system are present in the offshore,” he said.