The Prime Minister hoped that oil and/or gas will be found in any cross-border TT-Barbados fields will be exploited long before the 20 year period spent on the now shelved Loran-Manatee deal between TT and Venezuela.
Dr Rowley gave his views moments after signing an umbrella treaty with Bajan PM Mia Mottley for a unitised or joint exploration of hydrocarbons at the TT-Barbados maritime border. “Whatever (hydrocarbons) might exist might run across our borders. Seismic surveys are best done without restraint of borders.
“If we do find hydrocarbons, as we anticipate that we would given the geological prospects we’ve been noting, it would be easier for us to exploit, to produce and to market any such product if we do it together.”
Yet he warned that actual exploitation under a unitisation treaty can take “a very long time.”
“We’ve been working on unitisation with Venezuela for almost 20 years after we discovered the Loran-Manatee and other fields on our southern border, then recently Venezuela got itself sanctioned by the United States and that puts an end to that.
“After 20 years the Venezuelans cannot move in the way we were hoping from the first day we started out.”
The PM said TT just got Venezuela’s nod for each to exploit the Loran-Manatee separately. “But that is a very unusual development and it usually takes good cooperation between the countries.” Rowley said under the TT-Barbados unitisation deal, seismic work is being done and exploration wells are being drilled in TT waters right up to the Bajan border and if hydrocarbons are found in exploration will be continued into Bajan waters, and vice-versa. “If God smiles on us and we do find hydrocarbons, oil or gas and mostly likely gas, we now have now this moment agreed to operate on a unitised basis.” He said the deal lets oil companies in TT and in Barbados very confidently explore and invest.
“Hopefully this will encourage exploration in the deep water. We can accelerate ourselves towards a point where we can monetise at the earliest date whatever we may find on that acreage.” Hydrocarbons will help both nations’ economies.
Mottley said the deal deepens integration and reduces the risks in exploration. “The larger it (oil/gas field) is the better for them.” She hoped to gain from TT’s 100 years of energy experience. Mottley said the treaty is a first step, to be followed by unitisation deals for each individual field to be discovered. She said BHP Billiton has signed an eight year exploration licence in Barbados to give Barbados a signing bonus of 11 million Barbados dollars this month. “We see this as the definite turning of the corner. We are new to the block. As we go into the Caricom heads meeting tomorrow, we’d like to see greater cooperation within the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas on the areas of energy, be it fossil fuel or renewable energy.”
Mottley said Guyana has eight billion barrels of proven reserves of oil, Grenada has significant hydrocarbons, while Jamaica and the Bahamas are exploring.
“We’ll not put all our blocks out at once. We’ve learned from TT. Even though we’ll be doing a few more this year, we will wait because there is a difference between negotiating from proven reserves from negotiating in anticipation of reserves being found.
“This is what happens when you share information and expertise. Otherwise we might have been tempted to giving out as many as we can now because of the race for fossil fuels.”