The state-owned Barbados National Oil Co. (BNOC) is going all-out to try to boost its current very modest crude oil production, which is around 1,000 b/d.
It is moving to reactivate its Fisherpond and Scotland fields, which contain a number of wells that Winton O’D Gibbs, BNOC’s general manager, says “have not been abandoned, but over the past several years have not been on production.”
A new plunger lift technique is being employed for this purpose, which Mr. Gibbs says should succeed in adding to current crude output.
All of Barbados’ oil comes from the Woodbourne area, which contains five fields – West Woodbourne, Central Woodbourne, Lower Greys, Hampton and Edgecumbe.
In addition to field reactivation, BNOC will soon be going after other sources of crude since, for its size, Barbados remains relatively underexplored.
What’s more, the state-owned company has even bigger ambitions, which include going outside of Barbados entirely in order to find oil.
As Mr. Gibbs observes, “The company recognises the importance of increasing its reserves base (which now totals a mere 3,044,083 million barrels proven) and continues to seek opportunities aimed at expanding operations overseas.”
BNOC was one of the bidders for a block in Petrotrin’s last acreage auction under the incremental production services programme, but was unsuccessful in securing a block.
However, if BNOC does manage to obtain an overseas foothold (presumably somewhere in the Caribbean, with Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname being the obvious possibilities), it would have done better than its counterpart in Trinidad and Tobago, which has only fitfully flirted with the idea of bidding for blocks elsewhere in the region but which has not pursued it with any great vigour.
Gibbs is anxious to make the point that he envisions BNOC’s future as an “integrated” energy company, moving away from its current role as a crude oil and associated gas producer (about 2 million cubic feet a day).
BNOC has ruled out any re-entry into the refining business for Barbados. (The United States’ Mobil operated a small refinery there until 1997.)
But BNOC is already very active in the fuels-importing business, bringing in gasoline, diesel and fuel oil through its Barbados National Terminal Co. Ltd (BNTCL) subsidiary, which it then passes on to the country’s several retailers, most of them well-known foreign names that have operated in the region for decades.
Now BNOC wants to branch out into renewable energy (RE) because, as Gibbs says, “We are aware of the negative impact fossil fuels (particularly fuel oil, which Petrotrin refines for it in Trinidad, with crude supplied by BNOC and supplemented by Petrotrin’s own fuel oil) can have on the country from an environmental perspective, and also in terms of foreign exchange usage.”
BNOC, he says, “is continuing its discussions with reputable entities aimed at the development of solar and wind energy, generating projects to facilitate the transformation of the company into a fully integrated energy corporation.”
BNOC has set up a renewable energy department, with an initial focus on the design and installation of photovoltaic systems on a commercial basis, and “discussions will continue with the relevant agencies and prospective clients for the execution of these projects.”
Its new corporate building is fully serviced with renewable energy. Another RE initiative involves adding ethanol and biodiesel to the gasoline mix in Barbados.
Experiments with 10 percent ethanol (E10) and 20 percent biodiesel in the gasoline and diesel mix, respectively, are continuing.