Minister with responsibility for Energy in Barbados, Senator Darcy Boyce, has  suggested a regional approach to the issues related to offshore oil and gas exploration in the Caribbean.

Speaking at the opening of a capacity building workshop last Tuesday, sponsored by the Trinidad and Tobago Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (TTETI) and the British High Commission, Senator Boyce stressed the importance of sharing experiences and moving to a position where there was a lot more regional collaboration in respect of the legislation and the regulations which were put in place.

“We are part of a CARICOM Single Market and Economy and therefore we all have the same interest in local content arising out of the oil and gas industry to make sure that the benefits remain in fair measure within this region, that it creates opportunity for other investment, opportunities for training, employment and skills development for our people,” he maintained.

The Energy Minister noted that as the industry developed, the region was also going to be sharing a lot of the risks and therefore collaboration would be necessary in areas such as risk assessment, risk management, disaster management planning and disaster recovery.

Licensing was another area worthy of a regional approach, Senator Boyce suggested, along with structures on taxation which, he explained would bring some level of standardisation.

He told his audience: “It seems to me that we have an opportunity now, since many of us have not yet started in the offshore oil and gas business, to treat the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea around us as a single and special space so that we minimise the risks associated with having several wells, many of them close together; so that we create greater efficiencies for those companies that get licences; and therefore put us in a position to negotiate harder and better for our countries.”

In this regard, he said, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) would be useful in structuring the Memoranda of Understanding that would have to be developed between the islands so that everyone could share equally in the offshore oil and gas industry.

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