United States of­fers Caribbean new oil deal

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

The United States on Mon­day rolled out a new ini­tia­tive for Caribbean coun­tries to en­sure en­ergy se­cu­rity in a move widely seen as dis­tanc­ing the Caribbean from Venezuela for its oil and en­ergy needs.

United States Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den, ad­dress­ing the first ever Caribbean En­ergy Se­cu­rity Sum­mit, told Caribbean Com­mu­nity (CARICOM) coun­tries that there are more op­tions at their dis­posal now for nat­u­ral gas de­liv­ery than there have ever been.

“You can now pur­chase gas on the open mar­ket from many coun­tries in­clud­ing your neigh­bor Trinidad and Tobago right now. There­are also LNG ex­porters in the United States with li­cences to ex­port to any of your coun­tries whether you have a free trade agree­ment or not. If you want gas, go talk to them.

“Mean­while we are in the midst of a seis­mic shift in the global econ­omy, the as­cen­dancy of the Amer­i­cas as the epi­cen­ter of the cen­ter of en­ergy pro­duc­tion in the world.

“We have more oil and gas … than all the states in the world com­bined. Mex­ico Canada the United States is the new epi­cen­ter of en­ergy,” Bi­den said.

Re­gional coun­tries have in the past re­lied on Cara­cas for oil and petroleum prod­ucts un­der the PetroCaribe ini­tia­tive, an oil al­liance of many Caribbean states with Venezuela to pur­chase oil on con­di­tions of pref­er­en­tial pay­ment.

But Bi­den told the sum­mit an in­te­grated North Amer­ica work­ing to pro­mote en­ergy se­cu­rity be­yond its bor­ders “can be a ma­jor as­set for the en­tire hemi­sphere and it’s pro­foundly in the self in­ter­est of the United States to see the Caribbean coun­tries suc­ceed as pros­per­ous, se­cure and en­ergy in­de­pen­dent neigh­bors, not a world apart but an in­te­gral part of the hemi­sphere where ev­ery na­tion is mid­dle class, demo­cratic and se­cure.”

Bi­den told the sum­mit that it is the first time in his­tory such a vi­sion can be ac­com­plished. “You can see it if we make the right de­ci­sions. So taken to­gether th­ese changes cre­ate a mo­ment of en­ergy op­por­tu­nity that hasn’t ex­isted. Progress is pos­si­ble and it is pos­si­ble to begin now,” he said, in­sist­ing “not a decade from now.”

He said that was among the is­sues dis­cussed with the re­gional lead­ers, adding “Some peo­ple think it can’t be done in the Caribbean; they are dead wrong. Not only can it be done, it is be­ing done right now with some of your neigh­bors. Look at what the US Vir­gin Is­lands is do­ing; they are com­bin­ing re­new­able en­ergy with propane to lower costs …”

Bi­den said that St. Lu­cia is break­ing down the bar­ri­ers to de­velop new in­vest­ments in geo­ther­mal en­ergy; it is cre­at­ing new leg­is­la­tion to cre­ate a na­tional reg­u­la­tory body for en­ergy to “sta­bi­lize the rules of the game and make in­vest­ments more at­trac­tive for those of you who are en­ergy sup­pli­ers.”

He said Bar­ba­dos “has long been the leader of so­lar tech­nol­ogy (and) is posed to make ma­jor new in­vest­ments in re­new­ables.”

“Progress is prac­ti­cal, it is pos­si­ble and it is prof­itable,” Bi­den said, adding that sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments are within reach for ev­ery Caribbean coun­try.

But he told the CARICOM lead­ers that they needed to sum­mon the po­lit­i­cal will to en­sure suc­cess “be­cause, as we learn, real and last­ing progress for en­ergy se­cu­rity ev­ery­where in the world de­pends on more than just spend­ing money.”

He said that over the last 10 years tens of mil­lions of dol­lars had been pledged and in­vested “but we don’t have nearly enough to show for it.”

He said the pri­mary goal of the sum­mit is “not to put up an­other so­lar panel or sign an­other gas con­tract (but) it is to help you cre­ate the con­di­tions where you coun­tries can at­tract pri­vate sec­tor in­vest­ment and it is there.” He said the Caribbean now has an op­por­tu­nity “for a sup­ply of en­ergy that is more re­silient, more sus­tain­able, cleaner, more af­ford­able than you will ever ever had.

“You have a chance to re­duce the num­ber of oil spills, pro­tect your wa­ters, pour the money you are sav­ing into schools, hos­pi­tals, jobs, in­fra­struc­ture, man­u­fac­tur­ing,” he said, ac­knowl­edg­ing “a lot of work lies ahead.”

“But we have a chance … and the sin­gle big­gest bur­den that can be lifted upon you right now, eco­nom­i­cally, is the cost of en­ergy and the de­pen­dence that you still have on sin­gle sup­pli­ers,” Bi­den said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.