During the 23rd inter-sessional meeting of the Caricom Heads of Government in Paramaribo, Suriname last week, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar held bi-lateral talks with her Barbadian counterpart Freundel Stuart, after which Stuart is reported to have stated that the pipeline between the two countries should become a reality “within the next 18 months or so,” according to the Barbados Advocate.
Persad-Bissessar’s communication specialist, Lisa Ghany, yesterday confirmed that the meeting had taken place.
The 300-kilometre long pipeline will run from the Cove Point Estate, Tobago to Barbados, and will supply 30 million standard cubic feet of natural gas per day to the primary customer, Barbados Light and Power Company.
In a telephone interview with the Express yesterday, Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine described the pipeline as an initiative driven by the private sector. He said work will begin in 2013 and should be completed by 2015.
Shareholders of the ECGPC, which will be constructing the pipeline, are US-based Beowulf Energy LLC and First Reserve Energy Infrastructure Fund—who collectively own a 60 per cent stake; Guardian Holdings Limited, with 15 per cent; the Unit Trust Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (15 per cent); and the state-owned National Gas Company (10 per cent).
“The project is largely driven by the private sector but there is a certain level of facilitation provided by both governments.
“We reaffirmed our support of the project and see it as important for Caricom integration; we will be providing energy security for another Caricom country,” he said.
“The gas will be used primarily for power generation. Right now, Barbados uses fuel oil or diesel for power generation, which is very expensive because they are dependent global oil prices. From an economic perspective, it will reduce Barbados’ power generation costs and provide a cleaner burning fuel,” Ramnarine said.
The average cost of electricity in Barbados is approximately US 25 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), four times as much as Trinidad’s (US 6 cents per kWh).
Ramnarine also said he had met with Jamaican Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell recently to reopen dialogue on supplying liquefied natural gas (LNG) to that country. He said that while talks had broken down about four or five years ago, he and Paulwell were committed to work together to find a commercial solution to supply Jamaica with LNG, hopefully by 2015.
Ramnarine is currently in Panama until Wednesday as part of an official delegation headed by Persad-Bissessar to discuss co-operations between both governments, particularly in the energy sector.
“Panama— one of the world’s fastest growing economies—is very interested in doing business with us. I’ll be accompanied by representatives from Petrotrin, NP and Lake Asphalt. The Panamanian government is interested in giving Petrotrin a bunkering facility in the Panama Canal- an area of very high maritime traffic. They are also interested in buying our propane and butane, bitumen and LNG,” he said.
A Panamanian delegation, headed by Energy Minister Juan Manuel Urriola Tam visited Trinidad and Tobago last November.