Prime Minister touts PetroCaribe

Kenny Anthony addressing the Saint Lucia Chamber of Commerce luncheon meeting on Thursday where he presented the case for the PetroCaribe  deal between Saint Lucia and Venezuela.

Kenny Anthony addressing the Saint Lucia Chamber of Commerce luncheon meeting on Thursday where he presented the case for the PetroCaribe
deal between Saint Lucia and Venezuela.

The Saint Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Culture held an executive luncheon on Thursday at Palm Haven which featured an address by Kenny Anthony, the Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Affairs, Planning and Social Security. He took the opportunity to discuss the topic “Widening our circles of solidarity for new opportunities”, focusing on Saint Lucia’s involvement in the PetroCaribe Agreement, which he deemed necessary for continued progress.
“This reawakening of our ties with our friends in Latin America is an important element in our future economic development, as was highlighted in the Foreign Policy Review undertaken by a team headed by former Prime Minister and Professor Emeritus of International Relations, Dr. Vaughan Lewis.”
Dr. Anthony continued,
“At the heart of PetroCaribe is the concept of low interest financing. Venezuela has said this to its Caribbean partners, and here I am translating and transmuting the essence of the conversation:
“We know you struggle with the high cost of fuel, and the impact it has in every facet of your economies.
“Our energy costs continue to grow and greatly impact the cost of transport, electricity and, in one way or the other, nearly all our transactions. For instance, the cost of our food production is tied to fertiliser costs, a by-product of petroleum. Every time our fishers set out to sea, their outboard engines are dependent on imported fuels.
“Venezuela, on the other hand, is a hydrocarbon super-giant. It possesses vast oil and gas reserves, some of, if not the largest in the world. It produces an estimated 2.47 million barrels of oil a day. It is the fourth largest supplier of oil products to the United States of America, exporting in the region of 1.4 million barrels a day. Our very own sister state of Trinidad & Tobago, the only major oil and gas exporter in CARICOM, is presently negotiating with Venezuela a natural gas deal. Why then is there so much resistance in some quarters? Is it really based on reason and logic?”
According to Anthony, St Lucia has long been involved with the agreement, albeit inactively, missing out on potentially lucrative returns.
“We have been a signatory to PetroCaribe since June of 2005 but sadly, we never activated our membership. Since then, a number of countries throughout our region have enjoyed the benefits of PetroCaribe. So, we are an unfortunate latecomer to this endeavour. Whereas, we could have been benefitting for over five years now, we unfortunately have been without this very beneficial financial facility.”
For those who were not au courant with the finer details of the agreement, Anthony provided an overview.
“At the heart of it is the establishment of a Venezuela-Saint Lucia Bilateral Fund or a PetroCaribe Development Fund, as it is known in some PetroCaribe countries. The arrangements require the establishment of a joint venture company or entity responsible for the operations and sale of PetroCaribe products in Saint Lucia. These, of course,
could be a wide number of hydrocarbon by-products: diesel gasoline, LPG, kerosene, lubricants and so forth. Products would be sold to the joint venture company based on the going rate for these products by PDVSA, Venezuela’s national oil company. PDV Caribe, the subsidiary company of PDVSA, is responsible for arranging logistics, planning and  coordination, including transport, storage and distribution systems.
“The joint venture company would then apply its mark-up for operating costs and profits, and sell the product on to the distributors or bulk purchasers, more than likely through the existing channels. In the case of Saint Lucia, the proposed bulk purchasers could be LUCELEC and existing distributors, namely RUBIS and Sol. There are of course details that will have to be worked out with respect to these companies and their existing purchase commitments from other suppliers.”
The outcome of the agreement remains to be seen, but for now the Prime Minister is definitely a proponent.

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