Grenada’s seven-week-old Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government has apparently done an about turn over the Boundary Delimitation agreement signed by its predecessor in office with neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago.
The new administration in St. George’s has signaled its intention to engage as soon as possible in the exploration and exploitation of Grenada’s hydrocarbon deposits with Port-of-Spain.
Prior to the February 19 change of government in Grenada, the Tillman Thomas-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government had signed a boundary agreement, as well as energy development agreements with Trinidad and Tobago.
The new government in delivering the Throne Speech last week, marking the Ceremonial State Opening of the First Session of the Ninth Parliament, announced that Grenada will move swiftly to implement the signed agreements.
“Cognizant of Grenada’s potential for hydro-carbon development, my Government will move swiftly to implement existing cooperation agreements with private investors”, said Governor-General, Sir Carlyle Glean in reading the speech that is prepared by government.
“Furthermore, Grenada will pursue cooperation arrangements with Trinidad and Tobago and other countries for joint development and eventual exploration and exploitation”, he told legislators from both Houses of Parliament.
Plans to proceed with the already signed agreement with T&T, is part of the NNP government’s potential investment plan to develop Grenada’s energy sector (renewable and non-renewable) and build a new economy.
However the announcement as read out by the Governor General on behalf of the Government is in sharp contrast to previous statements made by Dr. Mitchell when in opposition.
At a public rally held by NNP in St George’s in March 2012, Dr. Mitchell told party supporters that a re-elected NNP Government will re-examine the terms of the boundary delimitation agreement between Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago as it is one of the many bad decisions made by the Thomas-led Congress government and which he intends to reverse.
He accused the then NDC government of signing away the birthright of Grenada by agreeing to delimit the waters between the two countries, after previous governments including Sir. Eric Matthew Gairy’s GULP and the former NDC government of Sir Nicholas Brathwaite had refused to do so.
“Over the years the GULP (Grenada United Labour Party) government under Sir Eric Gairy, sought to have Trinidad agree to a joint arrangement to drill for oil and gas in the disputed waters…Trinidad didn’t agree; Eric Gairy never signed our birthright away,” Dr. Mitchell had told his supporters.
“The (1979-83) revolution came in…and Trinidad tried to get them to agree to sign…they refused…Nicholas Brathwaite and George Brizan, Francis Alexis’ NDC came into government, they lasted five years, they refused. The NNP lasted thirteen years…thirteen years we protected the birthright of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique. Tillman Thomas come into government – two years – he doesn’t understand a clue about the boundaries that we have there…and he sign away Grenada’s right,” he remarked.
The historic signing of the maritime boundary agreement between former Prime Minister Thomas and former Prime Minister Patrick Manning of Trinidad and Tobago took place on April 21, 2010 in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
On September 03, 2012, former Finance Minister Nazim Burke and Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs, Kevin Ramnarine, signed a cooperation agreement for energy development laying the foundation for cooperation in areas such as the development and implementation of technical programmes, projects and activities, the conduct of joint seismic surveys and joint exploration, and the implementation of joint development plans for the unitisation of hydrocarbon reservoirs existing in the respective continental shelves of both countries.
The agreement, according to Burke allows for cooperation in the sharing of seismic data so that information that Trinidad and Tobago has about oil and gas location will be shared with Grenada and vice-versa.
The former Finance & Energy Minister said the agreement also makes provision for Grenada to hire seismic companies to do searches in Grenada’s waters to determine where deposits are and will share the revenues from those searches.
He explained that the selling of these data could bring in a stream of revenue even before the country starts reaping its oil and gas resources.
In the Throne Speech delivery last week, the Mitchell government also disclosed its intention to pursue joint agreements on boundary delimitation with Venezuela and other CARICOM states.
“Government will also pursue negotiations with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and other CARICOM states on boundary delimitations. Appropriate governance and institutional arrangements will be established to ensure the effective management of this sector and Grenada’s overall energy security,” Sir Carlyle said.
Relating to the country’s energy sector, Dr. Mitchell also promised on the campaign trail to correct what he referred to as other wrongs of the NDC Government particularly the liberalisation of energy production, which is currently solely in the hands of the Grenada Electricity Services Limited (GRENLEC).