OECS warned to prepare for high fuel prices

CASTRIES, St. Lucia: Experts in the energy sector of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) have been advised to prepare for a possible return of high fuel prices.

Senior energy economist at the World Bank, Pierre Audinet, told stakeholders at a recent meeting that they must combine approaches to deal with the growing cost of energy.

He said that the World Bank supports the proposed establishment of a regional institution as the Eastern Caribbean Energy Planning and Regulation Authority and believes that a collective approach can help reduce the impact of the unstable global energy market.

“The world where we were back in July which had these completely nonsensical oil prices which really hurt you very badly and many other countries in the world was not just a one off episode,” he said. “The likelihood that this comes back in spikes or for longer periods is actually quite strong.

“I would be very pretentious to say how much the oil price would be in the next few months but, at least, we are definitely going to see some amount of increases and stronger volatility. So we do believe in strong regulation of the electricity industry as a way to make sure that the costs don’t go too high and are properly optimized in prices.

“We believe that regionalizing the sector will make the issue of tariffs more transparent. The institution will advise on tariffs or, in fact, set the electricity tariffs, which is a major issue in the Eastern Caribbean.”

The World Bank believes a regional energy regulation authority will improve public confidence as well as attract increased investment in the sector.

World Bank specialists have urged OECS member countries to steadfastly pursue their commitment towards establishing a regional energy regulation authority.

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