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Barbados approves exploration licenses for offshore oil and gas development

By Sheerna Forde-Craigg

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) — Minister of energy and water resources, Wilfred Abrahams, stated: “While the government of Barbados is aggressively pursuing renewable and alternative energy initiatives, it also recognizes the importance of diversifying the island’s energy portfolio to include offshore oil and gas development.

“With prudent management, Barbados’ offshore oil and gas sector can offer significant opportunities for the Barbadian people, not only in terms of revenue generation but also in relation to institutional strengthening, capacity building, job creation, and technological advancement. This has been a long time in coming, and the government is eager for BHP to get started.”

Subsequent to the signing of the licences in April 2015, BHP submitted the mandatory Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) and Environmental Plans (EP) for approval by the minister responsible for the environment. After robust stakeholder consultations and multiple revisions of the documents to ensure that all potential concerns specific to Barbados were sufficiently addressed, the minister responsible for the environment formally approved BHP’s EIA and EP, effective Monday, January 27, 2020.

The issuance of the effective licences marks the culmination of thorough negotiations between the two parties and grants BHP the exclusive rights to explore for petroleum and undertake appraisal activities in the licence areas. The Carlisle Bay and Bimshire blocks are located between 40 km to 140 km southeast of Barbados, collectively totalling approximately 5,000 km2 in area, and are generally located in waters ranging from 1,200 to 2,000 metres in depth.

Pursuant to the issuance of the effective licences, BHP will commence the first three-year licence phase, which includes conducting 2D seismic surveys on the two exploration blocks. With favourable results, BHP may enter an optional second phase of three years to perform 3D seismic surveys and other geological studies, followed by an optional third phase of two years, to drill at least one exploration well in each block.

BHP Petroleum vice president of exploration and appraisal, Sonia Scarselli, said: “We look forward to continuing our relationship with the Barbados government as we commence the next phase of our work in Barbadian waters … this opportunity leverages our offshore exploration expertise, and we are optimistic about our chances of discovering hydrocarbons within these blocks.”

At a meeting held at the 2020 Trinidad and Tobago Energy Conference in Port-of Spain, both parties discussed mutual intentions for a transparent working relationship, and the importance of prioritizing the environmental, local content and social value components of BHP’s work in Barbados.




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