Local energy officials were rather cagey at Tuesday’s weekly post-Cabinet Press Briefing on the prospects of drilling for oil and gas in Grenadian waters starting within the next few months.
“I think in the near future we’ll give the Prime Minister (Dr. Keith Mitchell) who is the Minister of Energy the opportunity to share that with you. Very soon…”, was the response of John Ogiste, Chief Energy Officer in the Ministry of Energy.
Ogiste said that question should not be answered by the Technocrats in the ministry but by Dr. Mitchell himself.
“…Let that opportunity stay with him (Prime Minister Mitchell) to share it with the public…we cannot address this on our agenda this morning…” he added.
Ogiste was responding to a specific question posed by a reporter from THE NEW TODAY in light of reports circulating in certain quarters that a Russian outfit that landed a contract to explore for oil and gas could start drilling in local waters as early as September.
Well-placed sources told this newspaper that the Russian group known as Global Petroleum Group (GPG) was engaged in negotiations with companies based in neighbouring Trinidad & Tobago to start the drilling process.
A source who asked not to be named said GPG has been given the go ahead by high-ranking members of the administration in St. George’s to proceed with drilling plans.
‘I know that a lot is happening behind the scene. Things are happening and not even the people in the Cabinet (of PM Mitchell) have been told anything…. They are totally in the dark”, he remarked.
The source speculated that the “big announcement” about the drilling could be timed to co-incide with the date set for the much-anticipated general election.
‘ I think that there will be an announcement soon by the Prime Minister on the drilling. I can tell you that it is coming soon”, he said.
Under the former National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas there was an area in the sea close to the diving line between Trinidad and Tobago known as “Block 21” that was identified as having great potential for oil and gas.
Shortly after the NNP government came into power in February 2013, an unknown ship was spotted in Grenada’s waters, which Minister of Economic Development, Planning, Trade, and Cooperatives, Oliver Joseph said was engaged in 3D tests for oil and gas.
The actual drilling was supposed to be carried out in 2014 but it never materialised.
The cash-strapped Mitchell-led NNP regime has forced Grenadians into belt tightening measures in the past four years due to a Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) that was introduced with support from the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The NNP has already introduced five Caretakers for the 15 constituencies on the island for the upcoming elections which must be held within the next 12 months.