Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Amor Mottley and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr. Keith Rowley have signed a unitization agreement, which will allow for the exploration of hydrocarbon resources on the maritime boundary shared by both countries.
The signing ceremony was held on Monday afternoon at Ilaro Court, and witnessed by several officials from both countries, including the Minister of Energy, Wilfred Abrahams and Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, Sandra Husbands.
Dr. Rowley underscored the importance of the unitization agreement. “If we do find hydrocarbons, as we anticipate we would, given the geological prospects that we have been noting, it would be easier for us to be able to exploit, produce and market any such product if we do it together,” he said.
He pointed out that his country’s acreage was now being exploited and the seismic work was being done.
“The exploration wells are being drilled right up to the Barbados border. We are now saying in the event that we do find hydrocarbons crossing Barbados and also in the event that the company is doing seismic work, it will do it into Barbados territory, and from Barbados into Trinidad and Tobago’s territory…
“If … we do find hydrocarbons oil or gas, probably most likely gas, that we have now this moment agreed to operate on a unitized basis; that the two countries will work together; designate the operators for such a resource and very quickly we can move towards its exploitation, as long as what we have found is commercially viable,” he explained.
Dr. Rowley further stated that it meant that the international companies that were in Trinidad, but not present in Barbados, could now confidently proceed to explore and invest and those on the Barbados acreage could do the same.
“Fortunately, one of the companies operate both in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago and that would make it even more attractive …. Hopefully, this would encourage exploration in the deep water which is where we are now looking for the bulk of our future resources and if we do that, we can accelerate ourselves towards the point where we can monetize, at the earliest possible date, whatever we may find on this acreage,” he stated.
Ms. Mottley said the unitization framework treaty was absolutely critical to allow the seismic work to continue.
“In August, we signed the memorandum of understanding, which was non-binding and which was negotiated as the first step in really what was a three-step process. Today, we signed the unitization agreement that will allow us, if we ever need to, to [go to the next stage of] individual unitization agreements, that will set out now the commercial terms upon which we share anything that is going to be exploited,” she stated.
The Prime Minister noted that the Ministry of Energy signed an exploration licence with BHP Petroleum for offshore blocks Carlisle Bay and Bimshire. With the signing, she explained, the seismic work could be done.
“It is an eight-year licence, with the first three years being a mandatory period of 2D seismic, then they have an optional period of 3D seismic, and then they have the opportunity to drill for the last two years ….
“The bottom line is that upon signing that agreement, there would also be the triggering of a signature bonus which will be paid into the Barbados Treasury within 30 days of the signature of that agreement. We should therefore be receiving BDS$11 million before the end of February. I am sure that all Barbadian tax payers will be happy to receive. We see this as the definite turning of the corner,” she stated.
Ms. Mottley said even though Barbados would make a few more of its offshore exploration blocks available this year, it would not put all on the market at once.
She said this was necessary because negotiating from proven reserves was more powerful than negotiating in anticipation of something being found.