BARBADOS has embarked on a fresh initiative to lure the world’s leading energy firms to explore its waters for oil and gas, after the latest seismic study showed the possible existence of significant hydrocarbon resources.
Minister of Energy, Kerrie Symmonds, said on Wednesday that the bidding process for licences will start on December 1.
He recently returned to the island from an international promotional roadshow in Houston, Texas, where he went public with the planned auction.
“Woodside Energy, which was formerly BHP, has now successfully completed a 2600 square kilometre 3D seismic survey offshore Barbados in the Carlisle Bay and the Bimshire Blocks. The final returns on that survey should be with us in a few months, but on the basis of previous surveys and what other information we have been able to pick up, we felt fairly confident that now was the right time to announce the offshore licensing round,” Symmonds told Barbados Today.
He added: “There is obviously a feeling, therefore, that there is some untapped hydrocarbon resource potential and that is what led to the launch of this competitive licensing round for the offshore acreage.”
The Energy Minister said the recently concluded International Meeting for Applied Geoscience and Energy (IMAGE) was one of the biggest and most important geosciences conferences held in recent times, and it was deliberately chosen to launch the offshore licensing round.
He said that in trying to whip up interest among the world’s leading energy professionals, major oil and gas companies, global energy leaders and geoscientists there, Barbadian officials informed them of the strides made in the local offshore exploration sector, including the unitisation agreement between this country and Trinidad to facilitate the joint development of hydrocarbon resources that straddle their shared maritime boundary, as well as the successful completion of the seismic survey.
The minister pointed out that there have been recent significant gas finds – about three to five trillion cubic feet of gas – by Woodside Energy in Trinidad and Tobago’s adjacent deep water blocks.
With the launch of the licensing round, investors can now compete for the opportunity to explore oil and gas potential in the island’s waters.
“There is, therefore, an invitation extended to companies around the world who specialise in exploration to take an interest in, and to nominate acreage from 22 available blocks in Barbados for inclusion in the bidding process, which will be followed obviously by a prequalification stage and then the formal bidding awards,” Symmonds said.
“It provides an opportunity for them to participate in the island’s deep water potential, but to do so under a competitive legal fiscal and regulatory framework.”
Symmonds also said that with amendments to the offshore legislation, the environment impact assessment period has been extended so that companies have a longer period within which they can do area-specific, purpose-oriented and more detailed analysis that would give government a better opportunity to determine the nature and quality of the work being done and its potential effect on the environment.
“Of course, we have introduced change of control provisions which give us greater oversight in the event of mergers, acquisitions and take-overs which are very prolific in this gas and oil sector,” he added.
Minister Symmonds contended that Barbados’ efforts to extract its hydrocarbon resources can go hand in hand with its clean energy policy.
“We recognise that the country obviously has significant hydrocarbon resources deep in our sea bed. The National Energy Policy was passed in Parliament, I believe in 2019, and speaks to the safe and the efficient and the environmentally conscious recovery of these resources and with the production of hydrocarbons being exported in an effort to generate revenue that can be reinvested . . . in the renewable energy section,” Symmonds said.
Noting that the renewable energy sector is replete with technologies that are not only new but exceptionally costly, he added: “If you [look at], for example, the need for battery storage and the cost of batteries at utility-scale to run an island, then you would understand what I am talking about. That is long before we get to the need to replace all the ground transportation in the country with electric and related-type vehicles.”
“That point I wanted to make very clear because the ambition is to put us in a position where, obviously, the potential for natural gas can be explored to the maximum and to make us as attractive and strategic a partner as possible for those entities which are interested as well in building a resilient energy future,” he declared. (Barbados Today)