Permanent Secretary (Energy) in the Ministry of Energy and Business Development, Andrew Gittens, presenting 100 STEM kits to Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Kay McConney, today. (C. Pitt/BGIS)  

Government is committed to building a diverse, multi-resource energy portfolio that will place Barbados on a path to becoming energy resilient, independent and sustainable.

Permanent Secretary (Energy) in the Ministry of Energy and Business Development, Andrew Gittens, reiterated this commitment today, as he presented 100 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) kits to the Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Kay McConney.  

The STEM kits were donated by global resource company and offshore licensee BHP, and are to be distributed to primary school students across the island.

Mr. Gittens said the ongoing war in Europe has reinforced the importance of Barbados having some level of independence in the energy sector.

“Through continued investment in the offshore oil and gas sector and the establishment of strategic partnerships with innovative and environmentally conscious companies such as BHP, Barbados can chart a successful energy future, and in doing so, continue to boost socio-economic development in the country.

“A well-managed offshore oil and gas sector can create opportunities for training and education; research and development; the development of niche skills and services; job creation and technological innovation, which will be critical to ensuring that the country successfully navigates the global energy transition,” the Permanent Secretary told his audience.

He said the STEM kits would help to increase the children’s understanding of the fundamentals of science and demonstrate the benefits of pursuing careers in the energy sector.  Each kit consists of four experiments that will introduce students to STEM topics, such as magnetic fields, electricity generation, energy conversion, virtual reality and luminescence.

In a statement read on her behalf, BHP’s Regional Exploration Manager, Liz Guijarro, said BHP’s purpose was to bring people and resources together to build a better world.

“People sit at the heart of our values and we work together with communities through partnerships that create investment, provide jobs and generate opportunities for families, towns, regions and nations. As a team, we at BHP are excited about the handing over of these STEM kits, which hopefully will empower the students who will be receiving them,” Ms. Guijarro stated.

She noted that BHP safely completed its 3-D Seismic Survey offshore Barbados last year, and described it as the first step in the exploration programme.

BHP’s licence commitments include an annual contribution of US$300,000, which will go towards training for Barbadians, and local content development.

With regard to this, Chief Geologist in the Ministry of Energy and Business Development, Nesha Nurse, shared that to date, nine interns had been trained, including six Protected Species Observers and three Geoscience interns. 

“Funds have also been provided by BHP to facilitate maritime training for representatives from the Division of Fisheries, BARNUFO and the Barbados Coast Guard….

“BHP has also provided three scholarships annually in the sum of US$30,000 per scholarship, during the first three years of the exploration licences. To date, one Barbadian student has been awarded a scholarship to pursue Masters studies related to the petroleum industry.  Additional scholarships will be awarded in 2022,” Ms. Nurse stated.

She added that there would be a combined contribution of US$75,000, to go towards internships, study tours and participation in industry training courses.  

She pointed out that three internship positions for Petroleum Geoscience and Petroleum Engineering graduates were currently being advertised for summer 2022.

Government issued BHP with licences on January 27, 2020, to explore the Carlisle Bay and Bimshire offshore blocks in search of hydrocarbons.

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