Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago Monday signed a Unitisation Agreement that would allow for the exploration of hydro carbons in the geological formations offshore where the borders of the two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries meet.
Both Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley and his host, Prime Minister Mia Mottley said the agreement provides an opportunity for improving the socio-economic fortunes of the two countries.
“We acknowledge that the geological history of the area recognise no borders between both Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados and whatever exists might run across these borders and in searching for it we strat with seismic surveys,” said Rowley, who is a geologist by profession.
He said the surveys are best done without constraints by borders.
“What we have just done here…between Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados where Trinidad’s acreage is now being exploited, seismic work is being done, exploration wells are being drilled right up to the Barbados border.
‘We are now saying in the event that we do find hydrocarbons across in Barbados and also in the event that the company is doing seismic work it will do it into Barbados territory and from Barbados into Trinidad and Tobago’s territory and of course if God smiles on us and we do find hydrocarbons, oil or gas, probably most likely gas, that we have now this moment agreed to operate on a unitised basis”.
He told the signing ceremony that the two countries would work together, designate the operators for such a resource “and very quickly we can move towards its exploitation as long as what we have found is commercially viable”.
Mottley said the agreement underscores the deepening of the regional integration movement, noting that within these matters, “certainty is required if we are dealing with commercial risks and to that extent there is nobody who would undertake commercial risks without having certainty.
“We are now as two sovereign states given all other persons who would be seeking to exploit on either side of the line, the certainty that they need in order to be able to spend their monies to do these things”.
She said it makes no sense for either country to try and do the exploration on its own and urged that “we go back to the essence of the integration movement where as ‘ a community of sovereign states we agree to treat each other better than we treat anyone else from outside of the region.
“Against that background it is unquestionable that Trinidad and Tobago has the deepest and longest experience in the oil and gas industry in the Caribbean Community for over a century and it is against that background that we recognise that within the context of what we have established as our jurisdiction, we want now to share and to cooperate”.
Mottley said it is regrettable that Barbados after having signed an exploration licence with the oil company BHP in 2008, only last month “signed an effective exploration licence” with the company.
“That it has taken this long is an amazing fact but I learned that our eyes are in front of our head and not in the back….and with the signing of that effective exploration licence it now allows them to move to the kind of seismic work …in order to be able to do what has to be done”.
She said it is an eight year licence with the first three years being a mandatory period of 2D seismic followed by an optional period of 3D seismic and “then they have, obviously the opportunity to drill for the last two years.
“The bottom line is that upon signing that agreement there will also be the triggering of a signature bonus which will be paid into the Barbados treasury within 30 days of the signature of that agreement and we should therefore be receiving BDS$11 million (One Barbados dollar=US$0.50 cents) before the end of February.
“We see this as the definite turning of the corner, we are new to the block, but we believe that in working with our family and our partners in the region, and I speak now of not only Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, but we recognise as we go into the CARICOM heads of government meeting tomorrow that we would like to be able to see greater cooperation within the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas on the areas of energy, be it fossil fuel, related energy or be it renewable energy as we face the existential threat of climate crisis,” Mottley added.