“This will make it possible for the country to receive a regular supply of petroleum products from Venezuela under the PetroCaribe arrangements that are currently being utilized by several other nations in the Caribbean,” a statement issued by the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Energy said.
It said that the decision to join PetroCaribe had been taken against a background of ever-escalating fuel costs and the adverse impact this was having on the economy, which is totally dependent on imported petroleum products.
“While our government is committed to making the transition to renewable sources of energy, St Lucia will continue to rely on imported petroleum as its main source of energy for the foreseeable future. PetroCaribe gives government greater flexibility to manage and stabilise the prices of petroleum products on the local market.”
The statement said that equally importantly is that the revenue derived from the PetroCaribe arrangements will be used to invest in social development programmes and social infrastructure in St Lucia, as has been done successfully in neighbouring Caribbean countries.
“Government believes there is tremendous benefit in St Lucia entering into these arrangements at this time, as it allows us to learn from the mistakes and challenges that have been encountered by our sister islands and put measures in place to ensure that these problems do not feature in Saint Lucia’s context.”
The statement said that PetroCaribe will provide a measure of certainty in the supply of petroleum products to St Lucia regardless what happens with the proposed sale of the Hess Oil Terminal Facility by its owners, the Hess Corporation.
The decision to join PetroCaribe had been strongly opposed by the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) which complained about the possibility of a further increase in debt, while a local financial expert cautioned against St. Lucia joining the oil alliance stating that Caracas had isolated itself far too much from the world financial markets and global community.
PetroCaribe provides for several Caribbean countries to purchase oil from Venezuela on conditions of preferential payment. The alliance was launched in 2005 and was aimed at strengthening the countries that are members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).