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Oil and renewable energy can co-exist

Oil and renewable energy can co-exist
Kerrie Symmonds has said “thanks but no thanks” to Joseph Atherley’s suggestion he cross the floor. (FP)

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Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerrie Symmonds, is assuring the public that there is room for Government’s seismic exploration and the move to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030 to co-exist.

He made this observation Tuesday night during BHP’s virtual public consultation on the upcoming 3D seismic survey of 618 square miles offshore Barbados, which is slated to begin in September.

The Minister told online participants that Government was pursuing the development of offshore hydrocarbon resources while simultaneously pursuing alternative energy sources because it recognised the importance of advocating for energy security with “emphasis on the broad diversification of our energy mix and portfolio”.

“With prudent management, Barbados’ offshore and gas sector can offer significant opportunities for the Barbadian people, not only in terms of foreign exchange generation from the explore of the product, but in relation to institutional strengthening, the building of capacity, creation of jobs, and technological advancement,” Symmonds stated.

He continued: “Presently, the oil and gas industry are making exponential advances as it relates to greening, as cleaner energy, sustainability and conservation are now consistent themes in every conversation about our future.

“Additionally, networks being activated in the industry and right now in Barbados can be easily exportable to other managerial, industrial, scientific, educational and also social applications across the island.”

Symmonds gave the assurance that the benefits of offshore exploration and the quest to achieve a carbon neutral status can and “must” co-exist and be mobilised in the pursuit of diversification and advancement of the Barbadian society.

Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Francine Blackman, thanked members of the public for their interest in the consultation.

She added that this was the fifth consultation and disclosed that discussions were held with fisherfolk, tourism, academic, and stakeholder regulatory agencies across government, among others.

Blackman said the public consultation was designed to give details on the plans regarding the proposed seismic exploration and to garner feedback as “we ramp up the work to culminate where we hope to … successfully discover oil off Barbados”.

Last January, Government issued a licence to global oil and gas company BHP to explore two blocks offshore Barbados – Carlisle Bay and Bimshire.  Blackman said the start of exploration was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the process would now commence in September.

“Now that we are beginning this process, we are certainly very excited because this commences now the 3D Seismic Survey that will start in September of this year. The seismic survey will last for a period of one month and will be conducted in accordance with technical health and safety, governmental guidelines,” she said.

“We went through a very rigorous exercise between Barbados and BHP and certainly all the other regulatory agencies to make sure that everything that was done would conform not only to international standards, but certainly those of a small island nation, where tourism is a big feature of the island’s economy.” (BGIS).