From left to right – Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy and Business, Debra Dowridge; Consultant with the Commonwealth Secretariat, Dr. Bede Nwete; Legal Advisor at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Dr. Chilenye Nwapi; Fidelia Oredugba from the Commonwealth Secretariat; and Economist with the Ministry of Energy and Business, Alton Best, at today’s Barbados Energy Local Content Plenary Stakeholders’ Workshop. (B. Hinds/BGIS)

Another licensing bid round for Barbados’ offshore blocks is expected to take place in three months.

Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Business, Debra Dowridge, made the disclosure today, as she addressed the one-day Barbados Energy Local Content Plenary Stakeholders’ Workshop, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.     

Ms. Dowridge told the gathering: “With another bid round expected to take place in September 2022, it is imperative that the Ministry of Energy and Business has the requisite legislation in place to properly govern the sector.

“With this in view, the Government of Barbados is striding ahead with the formulation of its Local Content Policy, with a view to equipping its citizens with the requisite tools and standards to be able to participate at the international level when that call comes.”

The Deputy Permanent Secretary noted that two offshore licences had already been issued and signed in 2015. These, she continued, became effective in 2020 following the approval of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessments.

She said the country had already derived benefits from the two offshore licences through scholarships, technical training, the purchase of hardware and software, the provision of educational materials, financial support to The University of the West Indies, and the use of local services, including accommodation, venue rentals, contractors, transportation and communications.

Ms. Dowridge explained that as Government seeks to transition to a 100 per cent renewable energy island by 2030, the Local Content Policy would help in ensuring that Government stands by its commitment of building the capability and capacity of its people and businesses.

“This achievement would allow for foreign exchange savings and the re-deployment of these funds within the economy in a much more productive manner,” she pointed out.

Legal Advisor, Commonwealth Secretariat, Dr. Chilenye Nwapi, said local content policy and legislation were a vital instrument for maximising the benefits of natural resource development to the nation and its citizens.

“Most importantly, they can facilitate promotion of local participation in national economic activities, enabling local businesses to build their capacity to compete with international businesses,” Mr. Nwapi explained.

He stated that the local content project aims to put in place systems and mechanisms to improve the capacity and capability of Barbadians to participate and access business opportunities in the energy industry value chain.

“This begins with understanding the existing potential and gaps and establishing appropriate legal and institutional mechanisms to build the competitiveness of Barbadian businesses,” he pointed out.

Dr. Nwapi said that since 2015, the Commonwealth Secretariat has been working with Government to reform the governance of the energy sector. This has involved provision of technical support to the Ministry of Energy in drafting the Energy Local Content Policy, amending the local content provisions of the Offshore Petroleum Act, and developing Offshore Petroleum (Local Content) Regulations, among others.

The Commonwealth Secretariat has provided technical assistance to the Ministry of Energy and Business to engage the consultants, and the energy local content project’s consultancy is being funded by the India-UN Development Partnership Fund.

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