Barbados Awards Oil Exploration Rights
January 19, 2009 2 Comments
Barbados has awarded its first offshore oil-exploration rights in a bid to diversify its tourism-driven economy, an energy official said Friday.
The government licensed Melboure, Australia-based BHP Billiton to evaluate two undersea blocks southeast of the Caribbean island, said Philmore Best, deputy permanent secretary of Barbados’ energy ministry. He gave no details on the financial terms of the deal.
Barbados plans to open as many as 26 blocks for exploration. Best said he believes multinational oil companies could boost the island’s energy production enough to soon rival tourism as its biggest industry.
The island sits in the southeastern Caribbean near oil-rich Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela. Barbados now produces just 1,100 barrels of oil a day from wells on land, making it a net oil importer.
“Based on how the Caribbean and South American plates jam together, there should be an environment where you find oil and gas offshore,” said Frederick Kozak, an energy analyst at Canaccord Adams, an investment firm in Vancouver, Canada. “The problem is you don’t really know where it is.”
The former British colony has considered offshore drilling since the 1990s, when a study by the U.S. oil company then known as Conoco Inc. noted promise in nearby areas. Barbados solicited its first bids in 2007.