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Cheaper and more reliable fuel supplies under scrutiny as

PM Discusses PetroCaribe Initiative with Visiting Venezuelan Delegation


Contact: Prime Minister's Press Secretary

Prime Minister and representatives of Venezuela

Prime Minister and representatives of Venezuela

Friday, July 29, 2005 – Prime Minister Dr Kenny D. Anthony has met with an official Venezuelan delegation sent by President Hugo Chavez to discuss the mechanics of Caracas’ PetroCaribe initiative. The meeting took place at the Office of the Prime Minister at 7:00pm Thursday.

The Venezuelan delegation was led by Senor Roberto Capriles, the General Manager of the El Palito oil refinery, who is also a senior official of Petroleos De Venezuela (PDVSA) the state-owned oil company of Venezuela.

The eight-member delegation was on the last leg of a whirlwind tour of the various Caricom member-states that agreed in Venezuela last month to establish the trans-national company to provide cheaper fuel and support for social programmes for participating states.

The delegation discussed with the Prime Minister how the mechanisms of the agreement could be established and both sides outlined their respective ideas on how to proceed.

The Prime Minister said St. Lucia welcomed the initiative by the Venezuelan President, which, he said, “comes at an opportune time when spiraling fuel prices are draining the meager resources of small Caribbean states like St. Lucia.”

“With no end in sight to the petroleum price increases from traditional sources,” the Prime Minister said the region’s non-oil producing states remained “exceedingly vulnerable and at the mercy of traditional suppliers.”

As such, he noted, the initiative to supply cheaper fuel and alternative energy supplies to Venezuela’s Caribbean neighbours was “a magnificent gesture that will go a long way in addressing the pressing energy needs of the region.”

Dr Anthony said St. Lucia and the other non-oil producing Caricom member-states have “never before had such an excellent opportunity to address the important national problem of energy supplies that we all face.”

Heads of Government and their representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname and Venezuela signed the agreement in Puerto La Cruz on June 29, 2005 to establish PetroCaribe, a multi-national company to be owned by the participating states.

Under the initiative, Venezuela will provide cheaper fuel to participating Caribbean and Latin American states, with special and differential treatment for smaller and less developed states like St. Lucia.

Venezuela proposes to pay between 5% and 50% of the cost of oil per barrel on a sliding scale of prices ranging from US$15 per barrel to US$100 per barrel. And Caracas offers even more special treatment for highly-indebted poor countries like Guyana.

Unveiling the initiative, the Venezuelan President said it was being proposed in light of current global economic trends that lead to greater marginalization of developing countries whose economies depended on foreign sources for economic survival.

President Chavez said today’s unfair global economic order featured enormous wastage in consumer societies which negatively impact on the social conditions in Caribbean states. He noted that in many cases, agricultural exports on which such countries depend, such as bananas and sugar, were being adversely affected by lower prices paid by the developed nations.

In such circumstances, said President Chavez, Caribbean countries needed to have access to cheaper and reliable sources of energy, with assurances that prices will not represent an obstacle to their development.
He said the PetroCaribe initiative is aimed at addressing these needs and invited the signatory member-states to activate it soon.

The Venezuelan initiative also includes a special US$50 million fund for social and economic development in the participating states, with possibilities for assistance in such areas as housing, infrastructure and education.

Prime Minister Anthony asked the visiting Venezuelan delegation to convey his appreciation to President Chavez for his support for the Caribbean’s efforts to secure better prices for agricultural commodities such as bananas and sugar.

The Prime Minister also offered the assurance that St. Lucia is ready and willing to participate fully in the PetroCaribe initiative.

The Venezuelan delegation left Castries on Friday morning after having visited all the participating members-states in the region.


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