Fri | Feb 28, 2020

Barbados defends LNG purchase, chooses US over Trinidad

Published:Sunday | June 26, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Freundel Stuart, prime minister of Barbados.

Barbados has defended its decision to import Liquefied Natural Gas from the United States rather than from its Caricom trading partner, Trinidad and Tobago.

Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Energy Darcy Boyce is quoted in the online publication, Barbados Today on Friday as saying it is a matter of logistics.

He said that Bridgetown did not bypass Port of Spain, but simply needed "very, very small quantities" to top up the reserves, which Trinidad was "not able to supply us" at the time.

Earlier this week, the Caribbean Media Corporation reported that Barbados was the lone CARICOM country to import LNG from the United States so far this year.

A report from the US Department of Energy showed that Barbados imported 7,432 million cubic feet of gas between February 5 and April 29.

Bridgetown paid as high as US$15.78 per mmbtu for the gas from the US. The energy department report also shows that the US sold LNG to countries like Argentina, Brazil, India, and United Arab Emirates at prices between US$3.35 and US$4.10 per mmbtu.

Trinidad & Tobago, CARICOM's biggest exporter of LNG, sold the commodity to the United States this year at US$6.70 per mmbtu.

Boyce told the local newspaper that the Freundel Stuart administration imported the small quantities of LNG over the past few months because it wanted to avoid a repeat of the shortage of gas experienced during the 2014/15 tourist winter season.

"We bought a small amount of LNG so we can make sure we have the averages we had last winter. And it is very small amount. It is not a big commercial plant. It is a very small amount to top up, to make sure the plant is okay, to make sure we have the energy we had for the winter last year. So that is all it is," said Boyce.

"We were not importing any natural gas before. Remember, the prime minister made a Parliamentary statement sometime last year that we were going to do what we had to do to make sure we did not have the outages again. And so we did a very small plant to make sure we can maintain the pressure in the systems throughout the winter season and the peak of the hotel season. That is all it is."

In early 2015, Prime Minister Stuart announced in Parliament that the National Petroleum Corporation discovered that the production of some wells had fallen below the economic threshold, and that two other wells were identified that would be connected to the Barbados National Oil Company Limited's existing gas-gathering system.

Stuart had also outlined a plan to address the shortage, which included the importation of gas and the retrofitting of the gas plant.