Gas deal near
IF ALL GOES?according to plan, natural gas from Trinidad and Tobago could be flowing into Barbados in another 18 months.
This was announced by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart yesterday when he returned from the 23rd Inter-Sessional Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government, held in Suriname.
Stuart held a Press conference in the VIP?Lounge at Grantley Adams International Airport to update the media on what was discussed.
He said he had held bilateral talks with Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and was informed that a cabinet decision had already been made in Port of Spain on the installation of the pipeline.
“They had taken a decision on the lease. We were asking for a 25-year lease, they were saying 15 [years] but in the bilateral discussion it was thought that we could meet each other halfway and end up with a 20-year lease to get the natural gas pipeline arrangement going,” Stuart reported.
He added that technocrats in Barbados would be working closely with those in the
twin-island republic and “within another 18 months or so there should be a natural gas pipeline between Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago”.
But while noting the pipeline would be of tremendous benefit, the Prime Minister said Barbados was still exploring its offshore oil resources.
“Once we are able to do the necessary exploratory work, we should be able to solve a lot of our own problems,” he said.
He also disclosed that the two countries were working towards the much talked about fishing agreement.
Stuart said Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite and CARICOM Ambassador Robert “Bobby” Morris would be collaborating with their Trinidad counterparts. Brathwaite is due to send a draft protocol to the Trinidad government.
Stuart, who has lead responsibility within CARICOM?for the creation of a regional single market and economy, said a report commissioned by the Georgetown-based CARICOM?Secretariat was a much discussed topic at the meeting.
That report, he said, made the point that CARICOM was in crisis. But Stuart stated that many of the leaders did not share this view.
“There were some heads who felt that the language of the report was a bit extravagant and in some cases did not reflect the reality of the regional integration movement.”
He told reporters the view was also expressed that the CARICOM Secretariat needed to be restructured and made more relevant.
He said the report would be studied “more closely” and Heads of Government would work along with the Secretariat to ensure the more important recommendations were carried out.
Stuart acknowledged there were still a number of positions in the CARICOM Secretariat which needed to be filled and this was contributing to the “implementation deficit” plaguing it.
He also disclosed that Deputy Secretary General Barbadian Lolita Applewhaite, was retiring.
Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera has also expressed an interest in forming closer relations with Barbados, said Stuart. He added that Chile wanted to assist Barbados in the area of renewable energy and tourism. (MB)