Prime Minister Freundel Stuart says the award of the Black Belly Offshore Block to Repsol S.A., represents ???another bold step??? in Barbados??? journey towards realising its offshore petroleum potential.

Speaking at a ceremony at Ilaro Court yesterday to formally present the award to the company based in Madrid, Spain, Mr. Stuart said the opportunity to partner with Repsol was both encouraging and timely, considering the severe and wide-reaching constraints that had been placed on the oil and gas industry due to prevailing low oil prices.

???This blossoming partnership will undoubtedly send a clear message to the industry that Barbados remains committed to the development of its offshore petroleum sector,??? he said.

Barbados launched its offshore petroleum programme in 2007 in an effort to license prospective areas of the island???s offshore petroleum acreage. The Black Belly Sheep Block which Repsol will be exploring is located off the island???s west coast.

The Prime Minister said that the discovery and successful exploitation of commercial petroleum resources offshore Barbados would be a significant achievement.

He added: ???The ongoing effort to develop the offshore sector is, however, not simply about generating revenue or diversifying the company, but is also an opportunity to make a lasting contribution towards the social, professional and educational development of the Barbadian people.???

Mr. Stuart told the representatives of Repsol S.A. that the Government and people of Barbados would expect no less than the highest commitment to the preservation and protection of Barbados??? coastal and marine environment; to human resource development in the sector; as well as to the development of the communities in which Repsol would operate.

He said that the company???s ???excellent track record??? in relation to exploration, development and production of oil and gas resources, as well as its knowledge and experience in the region, made it an ideal partner to assist Barbados in maximising its offshore petroleum potential.

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