Minister of Energy for Barbados, Wilfred Abrahams and his counterpart in Trinidad and Tobago, Senator Franklin Khan, both signed the document at Ilaro Court, witnessed by their respective Prime Ministers, Mia Amor Mottley and Dr. Keith Rowley, senior public officials and the media.
Ms. Mottley explained that while the MOU was non-binding, it was a commitment to cooperate in energy exploration in the offshore of both territories. “Its only binding feature relates to the confidentiality of the data which we will access and every country commits to keeping that data confidential,” she disclosed.
She said the officials were hopeful that they would have a general framework treaty, by year-end, on how they would treat to unitization.
“Unitization simply means creating a mechanism of one from what would otherwise be disparate entities – Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and whoever will be the operator who will help lift the [natural] resources out. If you don’t have certainty in these commercial relationships, you end up pricing for the risk of uncertainty and once you do that, there is uncompetitiveness in the product and business case you are making,” she explained.
Prime Minister Rowley said his country had been looking for gas in the offshore and now in the deep water offshore, going further away from its coastline. “We are currently in what we call block 14 in Trinidad and Tobago, which is just about 85 miles off of our east coast and as we go further east, we get nearer to Barbados. Our block 14 is right on the Barbados border…
“Barbados has done seismic work on your side… Our seismic work has encouraged exploration in the area, on the border, and we have been doing exploration drilling. And … the first set of wells have been successful. So, it tells us we do have some potential in that area and across the line in Barbados, geologically, the same potential is held out….We are all positive that there are things to be had in that area in the offshore but to do that, it requires certain legal frameworks and the attraction of investment into this area,” he explained.
The Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister said it was now necessary for both countries to lay the groundwork to encourage investors in the area and in case they go to the stage of exploration.
“The MOU this morning allows us to cooperate in laying the groundwork for the two countries to act as one in encouraging investment in our…deep water. There will be two other levels of cooperation which will be required,” he stated.
Ms. Mottley underscored the importance of Barbados and Trinidad working together, saying they had been cooperating in the energy sector for almost 40 years. She noted that Trinidad and Tobago has extensive experience in the gas and oil area and Barbados could benefit significantly from the new arrangement.
She told her audience: “It is the most natural fit for us to take this step and we do so conscious that we are binding our two counties together even further; not for the benefit of those who are in office today, but more so for those who will come in the future.” She said young Barbadians should see the energy sector as an opportunity to widen out and not be limited to this country of 166 sq miles. She reiterated that the maritime jurisdiction, which is about 400 times the size of Barbados, would help the country secure its future.