BRIDGETOWN: The Government of Barbados has announced a seven million dollar (one Barbados dollar=US$0.50 cents) initiative aimed at bringing relief to businesses on the nation’s west coast suffering from a shortage of natural gas.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart told Parliament that the National Petroleum Corporation (NPC) has agreed that industrial users of natural gas should switch immediately to alternative fuels for the short term.
It followed an outcry by customers, including several hotel and restaurant chains, that they were experiencing low gas pressure since last December.
The new proposals followed a joint meeting last week between the technical subcommittee and boards of the Barbados National Oil Company Limited (BNOCL) and NPC.
Stuart said the NPC discovered that the production of some wells had fallen below the economic threshold, but that two other wells have been identified that would be connected to the BNOCL’s existing gas-gathering system.
“It is estimated that this work will be completed within two weeks, with two- and three-shifts-per-day operations,” he said. “Permissions for approval from the land owners and the Ministry of Transport and Works to lay the necessary pipelines have already been or are in the process of being sought.”
Stuart said four small air mix plants are scheduled to come on stream by the end of the month, while another plant would be set up.
“One large air mix plant with built-in redundancy will be installed at Woodbourne after NPC has ensured the integrity of the pipeline to cope with such an installation,” he said.
The natural gas suppliers also agreed to transport compressed natural gas by trail-mounted vessels. Stuart estimated it would take three to four weeks to put the necessary infrastructure in place at the facility and import the equipment.
Stuart said that in an effort to increase gas production and reserves, “the BNOCL will finalize the relevant contracts and other arrangements in order to resume its expanded drilling program early in the third quarter of 2015”.