The leader of Saint Lucia’s National Green Party (NGP) has urged Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Philip J. Pierre to consider Venezuela as an oil source amid the rising fuel costs.
“We urge the PM to take a long hard look at all the possible options including the possibility of sourcing oil from Venezuela, to speak with Trinidad and to encourage CARICOM to come up with a regional energy policy. Energy security is just as important as food and water security,” Andre de Caires stated.
The NGP leader noted that with the war in Ukraine plus the lingering social effects of COVID lockdowns, the high cost of oil has negatively affected the already backlogged supply chains worldwide.
“This has caused many more of us to think of oil, as now, the rising prices for all commodities are starting to affect everyone. There is a perfect storm approaching. We believe that the price of oil will continue to rise in the short term, at least for the next 6 months , as NATO seems to be preparing to be fighting to the death. This war will be dragging on,” de Caires told St Lucia Times.
At the same time, he observed that Saint Lucia is vulnerable because of being an oil importer.
“Where will we be able to source the cheapest oil to run this nation in the near future? Just south of us are two oil producing nations – Trinidad and Venezuela and soon to be Guyana when production starts. The US has placed sanctions on Venezuelan oil meaning that any country that intends to purchase Venezuelan oil will be sanctioned as well. Ironic when the very same nation that placed the sanctions on Venezuela is now negotiating with Venezuela to purchase oil from them,” de Caires asserted.
He explained that drastic and occasionally unpopular decisions are necessary in these times of crisis to ensure that Saint Lucia survives with as little collateral fallout as possible.
Venezuela had been a major oil exporter to the Caribbean, particularly under PetroCaribe – an energy initiative through which Caracas provided crude oil to some countries at discounted prices.
But by 2019, the PetroCaribe programme had virtually collapsed amid a steep drop in Venezuela’s domestic production and refining, mainly due to American sanctions.
As a result, Caribbean governments resorted to sourcing most of their fuel from the open market.
But Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne has been quoted in the regional media saying that given the escalating price of oil on the global market, the PetroCaribe initiative that Venezuela had in place could help allow the region to navigate the current situation.
According to a Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) report, Browne said Washington could not determine with whom the Caribbean conducts trading affairs.
And the CMC said the Antigua and Barbuda leader was calling on CARICOM leaders to approach Caracas for help in dealing with the rising costs of energy products.