T&T, Barbados Deal Major Blow To PetroCaribe Plan

Hardbeatnews, CARACAS, Venezuela, Thurs. June 30, 2005: Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados late yesterday refused to sign off on an agreement that would have seen the establishment of a significant Caribbean oil venture, PetroCaribe.

The two, part of the 15, including Cuba, that were slated to unanimously adopt the measure as gasoline prices at the pump remain high, opted out saying they needed more time to study the plan, according to Bloomberg News.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called the move surprising and sad, adding that he felt U.S. pressure made some countries change their minds at the last minute.

But T&T Prime Minister, Patrick Manning, was quoted as saying his country needed more time to study the plan and measure the possible impact on existing agreements. He did not give details but some of the agreements the country’s oil industry has are with the U.S. It is the largest supplier of liquefied natural gas to America.
Barbados officials made no comment and an evening press conference were reportedly canceled. The country was recently accused by a Washington group of being “opportunistic” and creating a rift in Caricom and “assuming a bent knee posture in regard to Washington.”

The PetroCaribe initiative, launched by Chavez last year, is aimed at assisting the Caribbean countries in obtaining fuel at cheaper rates from Venezuela and providing assistance to members in the areas of exploration, refining and marketing of petroleum.

All the Caricom countries, as well as Cuba and the Dominican Republic, had initially joined with Venezuela in the initiative aimed in the long run at ensuring energy integration in the Caribbean. It was promoted by Venezuela as complimentary to the PetroSur initiative, which promotes energy integration for the rest of South America. – Hardbeatnews.com