Article by Carlos Atwell – taken from the Nation News, August 22, 2022
Govt to invite foreign companies to explore zone
GOVERNMENT is actively seeking to expand its gasproducing capabilities in light of uncertain global fuel prices.
Minister of Energy Kerrie Symmonds told the DAILY NATION over the weekend that the Mia Amor Mottley administration was poised to invite foreign companies to explore what was possible.
“[This] week the Barbados Government will announce – in Houston, Texas – its international licensing round for the exploration of the offshore maritime space with a view of securing expressions of interest to [discover] natural gas. Natural gas is a virgin fuel, so it is completely in keeping with the green energy efforts of the country.
“We have had a lot of preliminary seismic data and it is reading very positively. We expect in short order to make a more substantial report to the country,” he said.
As for gasoline and diesel, Symmonds said the prices may soon rise again but Government was determined to keep Barbadians shielded.
Last Monday, Prime Minister Mottley told the nation that from August 19, the price of gasoline would be capped at $4.48 per litre and diesel at $4.08 until January 31, 2023.
This was after it was reported on August 5 that Barbados had the fourth-highest gasoline price in the world. A week later, after a further 81 cents increase, it went to third. However, from last Thursday, the retail price of gasoline dropped to $4.39 per litre and diesel to $3.85 per litre.
“The cap introduced by the Prime Minister is intended to shield consumers from the escalating prices. While we have seen a dip in prices, we are also seeing signs they are starting to rise again but with the cap, consumers will continue to be shielded for the next six months,” Symmonds said. “This has the benefit of having a knock-on effect for the economy because ground transportation is a major overhead for the distributive sector, but we have to keep monitoring what is happening overseas, especially in the Ukraine, to see what the long-term effects will be.”
The minister said that in addition to the price cap, the VAT cap will continue until next year.
“There will be a review of the cost of petroleum every two weeks so in the event prices fall, there will be a faster pass-through to consumers.
“One of the challenges we had was that the review was taking place on a monthly basis and while prices are rising, that shields the consumer for 30 days. However, if prices are falling, the monthly review then works to the detriment of consumers because it then took a month to get the benefits.”
This means rising prices will be passed on more quickly but this was the purpose of the cap is for, he explained.
Symmonds said he remained optimistic about the future and will hope gasoline falls below $4 this year, which would be “wonderful”