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With global oil prices on the rise and the international economy seemingly on the mend, oil exploration in Barbados’ waters may begin within the next fiscal year. That indication came from Chris Sinckler, Barbados’ Minister of Finance, who said in New York that Government has chosen BHP Billiton to explore for oil or gas. BHP Billiton is an Australia-based company with operations in the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa and Europe. Sinckler blamed the delay in undertaking the exploration on a mix of “flaws” in Barbados’ legislation and on the global economic collapse, which forced oil and gas drilling companies to put their plans on hold in order to reduce risks. “The bids came in and a choice was made and the company is left to do the exploration,” he said. “We have had to make some adjustments to the legislation that was left by the last Government because several of the countries which expressed an interest in bidding pointed out some flaws in that legislation which had to be addressed before any of them wanted to participate. We have gone in and made the changes and some of them will come to Parliament shortly.” Sinckler didn’t list either the “flaws” or the corrective steps. “Companies which had expressed a great interest in participating after the financial crisis, some of them decided to stay with what was certain, rather than to go exploring in potential fields that may not produce what they wanted,” he said. “There was nothing we could have done about that and in the end it came down to a few companies and that one [BHP Billiton] was selected. We will see how it goes from there. We expect that the process of getting to the exploration should begin sometime during the course of the next financial year.” Global oil prices which tanked during the fiscal crisis have since risen sharply, hovering in the US$90s and may go even higher, Sinckler said. The political uncertainty in the Mid-East plus the ever increasing demand for oil from China, India and other emerging economies and economic recovery in some developed countries have pushed up the price of oil.