The Voice Publishing Co.
       

powered by FreeFind
 

What we can do about oil
By Geoggrey Devaux

Oil and natural gas. Does St. Lucia have reserves that no one is exploring? Before writing off this question as a non starter, give me an ear.
Off the north coast of Trinidad there is at least one oil rig that has been pumping oil and or gas for several years. The distance from Grenada to Trinidad, shore to shore, is about 96 miles. The half way mark is therefore 48 miles. The oil rig mentioned above is about 30 miles north of Trinidad and therefore 18 miles from being inside the territorial waters of Grenada. If oil is discovered in the territorial waters of Grenada, then surely it belongs to Grenada and, by extension, would it not also belong to the OECS? If it belongs to the OECS then St. Lucia can claim a share of these reserves. Even in a worst case scenario, where St. Lucia could not claim a share, then surely a Grenada that was better off because of its oil related wealth, would mean positive spin offs for the OECS.
Coming back to the location of the oil rig close to Grenadian waters. Trini oil engineers are well known in the oil industry for their expertise in directional drilling. Information available suggests that a rig located in one position can drill and place pipes about six (6) miles from its location in a horizontal position. This means that the rig in question could have the mouth of a suction pipe located twelve miles from Grenada/ OECS waters. Because oil and gas are fluids, who know if some of these reserves are not already coming from Grenada/OECS reserves. No doubt the oil scientists have all the facts to suggest that this is an insane comment. It may be. However, they cannot deny that other reserves may exist just 20 miles away from the rig in question. After all Barbados has been successfully drilling for oil and gas for years. Their out-put has not made them self sufficient but has supplied some 30 % of their demands. Barbados is further away from Grenada than Trinidad is. It is common knowledge that the whole squabble over flying fish a few years ago had little to do about fish and more to do about potential oil reserves under the sea.
The question arises; Is this the domain of the Public or Private sector? Strictly speaking it is the domain of the Private sector but in this situation, where territorial boundaries may be in dispute, then Governments, prodded by the private sector, are clearly responsible for determining boundary lines.
An investment of this size may be beyond the ability of our local individual private sector members. However, is this not an opportunity for our OECS governments to come together and begin studies that would produce facts regarding the feasibility of drilling for oil on a profitable basis? Perhaps Mr. Stanford of Caribbean Star fame could become involved in this venture.

Enter Venezuela and Mr. Chavez, the great philanthropist of our region or is it Trojan horse, one that is well “oiled” at that?
Before our Governments signed agreements with Venezuela (interesting that neither Barbados nor Trinidad signed) surely the following issues should have been settled.
#1 Venezuela has for some time made a dubious claim to a rocky knoll about 60 miles off the west coast of Dominica. Venezuela claims that this is their territory and by extension, I presume, all the sea area between that rocky knoll and the mainland of Venezuela. This could mean that waters off the west coasts of Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenada are now Venezuelan waters and not part of the Caribbean Sea as we have always believed.
#2 The eastern boundary of Venezuela and the western boundary of Guyana have never been mutually agreed upon. In a nut shell Venezuela is claiming a significant portion (Perhaps more than half) of what Guyana claims is Guyana.
The main reason for these unsettled boundary issues, Dominica to the north and Guyana to the east of Venezuela, are natural resources, oil being a significant player. Is it not amazing that Guyana sits in the middle of two countries with no oil or gas industries? Yet Venezuela to its west and Surinam to its east both have oil and gas industries. Is it true that one of the reasons that oil companies are reluctant to explore for oil in Guyana is because of uncertain borders between Guyana and Venezuela?
So our political leaders continue to do an egg-shell dance around Mr.Chavez, mortgaging our future into heavy fuel debt, which, no doubt, Mr. Chavez will use to pursue his expansionist policies and secure these territories for his advantage.
Wake up OECS and Caricom leaders both Government and Private sector! Surely we can do better. Our future depends on it. Is this not a major topic for Caricom heads to address? Since they appear incapable of taking on these projects, either thorough lack of vision or commitment, then is it not time for the so called big fish in the private sector pond to come together and explore these possibilities with a view to making the oil industry a reality in the OECS and in Guyana?
In the mean-time we sit around wringing our hands and saying there is nothing we can do. I disagree strongly. (For one, we might consider making Spanish a compulsory subject in our schools.)
It is true that the Lord said that the last shall be first, but scripture also says if you don’t work, you don’t eat. Captains the ships are sinking, captains the seas are rough, but with God’s guidance, wisdom and perseverance, there are several ports waiting to give safe anchorage. Let’s MOVE.