Grenadians are still at a loss on exactly what the Russian company known as Global Petroleum Group (GPG) might have discovered in the island’s offshore waters.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell continues to make pronouncement that it is oil and gas but the Cabinet Minister directly responsible for Energy, Gregory Bowen is insisting that it is only gas so far.
Bowen told reporters at last week’s post-Cabinet Press Briefing that gas was the only natural resource found in the one well drilled by GPG and that government is hoping to find oil in the remaining three wells that will be drilled in approximately one year.
“The first result indicates an abundance of natural gas”, he said, adding that “we’re seeing the liquid component condensate and possibly oil but the massive result is gas. But when we do the next well, we hope and let us hope for Grenada’s sake that we can also find some oil”.
However, thousands of miles away in the British capital, London, Prime Minister Mitchell told a Town Hall meeting of Grenadians that there was a significant find of gas and oil by GPG but that the country will have to wait for some time to benefit from the oil.
“…We appear to have gas of major quantity and oil also, but we’ll have to build a platform for the oil…so it will take longer for you to start benefitting from the oil,” he said.
The Prime Minister also referred to the agreement that was signed in Port-of-Spain recently between the Russian oil company and the state-owned National Gas Company (NGC) of Trinidad and Tobago for the Twin Island Republic to purchase the gas found in Grenadian waters.
According to Dr. Mitchell, Trinidad is in dire need of gas which Grenada might be able to provide in due course.
He said: “There is an excellent chance, we have commercial Gas and Oil, we have trillions of gas available but of course it takes time before you harness it. They (GPG) have now signed with the Trinidad Company – we are working very closely with the Trinidad Oil company. They are going to be taking the pipeline to pump the gas to Trinidad because Trinidad is running short of gas for their own services”.
Dr. Mitchell used the London meeting to lambaste former Finance Minister and current Political Leader of Congress, Nazim Burke for frustrating the effort of the Russians to explore for oil and gas in Grenadian offshore waters.
He said that only two companies had expressed interest in investing in the search for the natural resources – one British Company and GPG but it was the Russia outfit who agreed to go ahead as the British Company thought it was too costly an exercise to undertake.
He said that “significant results” in 2008 when GPG started drilling but another study had to be done for confirmation but the NNP was defeated in the elections that year and the oil exploration work came to standstill.
He stated that the Russian company refused to work with the Congress government in office at the time, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and even while in opposition from 2008-3013, the NNP had to fight for the oil initiative to remain in place.
“The government came into office …. (and) the gentleman (Burke) refused to continue the discussion with the guys (Russians), literally refused.
Well-placed sources in the Congress government told this newspaper that GPG failed to deliver $10 million as agreed with the Tillman-Thomas government in order to proceed with the agreement.
PM Mitchell briefly made mention of legal battles that Grenada was forced to endure with U.S oilman, Jack Grynberg whom a previous NNP regime had signed an oil exploration agreement with in the 1995-99 period.
He told the London meeting: “There was literally a conman who had an arrangement years before, who did nothing with what he was given, decided that he suing the country for a billion dollars. So, we of course had to defend it, no matter how trivial a suit is, any lawyer would know this, you better defend it because the result can go against you.”
“We had started defending it, the (NDC) government came into office in 2008, Nazim Burke refused to continue to defend that case. In other words, the judgment could have come out against the country for a billion dollars, (and) he refused, I am not telling you them say sisters and brothers…” Mitchell said.
According to PM Mitchell, although the NNP was in opposition, the party took it upon itself to defend the country in the court against Grynberg.
“…We knew if the results had come out against us that they (NDC) would use it against Gregory Bowen and Keith Mitchell, so we defended it”, he said.
PM Mitchell did not give any details of where the monies came from to pay the legal fees to battle with Grynberg.
The Grenadian leader stated that when NNP won the 2013 election, it decided to resume collaboration with GPG.
“We proceeded to get the guys back on and we decided we’re going to proceed. I am telling you this: They did the third three dimensional study for further confirmation (of oil and gas) more possibilities. We had to do the testing of the wells, one major well was drilled – it was sent to Houston, all the companies were there and the results came back three weeks before the election. Now rumours started flying that Grenada has found oil but I know you can’t go and count your eggs before your chickens hatch, so, we waited and got the results three weeks before election. So, I wait the Sunday before election and I announced it…”, he said.
Mitchell’s NNP won all 15 seats in the just-ended elections to leave the NDC without a voice in the Lower House of Parliament for the second consecutive poll.