CARICOM to counter fuel, fertiliser woes through Guyana, Suriname & Trinidad
By Vishani Ragobeer in Suriname
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is seeking to tap into the abundant natural gas resources in Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) as the region braces for worsening shortages and price hikes that are expected to devastate citizens.
This is according to Surinamese President Chandrikapersad Santokhi, who has just assumed the role of CARICOM Chairman and has emphasised the need for countries to craft a common energy strategy quickly.
President Santokhi underscored the dire consequences countries have been faced with following the Ukraine/ Russia crisis. Among those consequences are increases in the cost of fuel and food.
As Caribbean leaders meet in Suriname from Sunday, at the 43rd Regular Meeting of the Heads of Government of CARICOM, focus will be directed towards exploiting resources within the region to counter these challenges.
And with newfound natural gas resources in Guyana and Suriname, and Trinidad’s experience as a gas producer and exporter, the Surinamese Head of State believes that the region’s woes can be eased.
“… if we will agree to design, as quick as possible, a common strategy to speed up the exportation of the gas then as a region, you can support the entire world and particularly Caribbean region with fertilisers,” President Santokhi emphasised at a press briefing at the Suriname Presidential Palace on Saturday.
For context, fertilisers can be produced as a spinoff product from natural gas.
Already, the global shortage of fertilisers has directly impacted food production, resulting in significant food price hikes and increasing costs of production for farmers.
Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali, while speaking last Monday at the opening ceremony of Suriname’s oil and gas summit, emphatically stated that the Caribbean countries will not be bullied into ceasing oil and gas production, since there are pressing needs here.
And together, the oil-rich countries will be crafting a common strategy that is expected to attract investors who will help fund development needs in the region, President Ali announced.
Meanwhile, at the briefing on Saturday, CARICOM Secretary General Dr. Carla Barnett also emphasised, “Energy security really is a top priority across the region.”
Because of the impact of the Ukraine/ Russia crisis on fuel prices- an occurrence that has beset citizens and businesses alike- the Secretary- General underscored that the region is keen on identifying solutions.
“Trinidad is the lead head on energy security and there is an active discussion taking place because one of the negative impacts from Ukraine is the rising fuel prices across the world.
“There are discussions that are presently underway, they’re active,” Dr. Barnett said.
Regional leaders will spend the next few days deliberating on matters of regional importance and how CARICOM should act to counter challenges that have manifested.
At the end of those talks, Dr. Barnett ascertained that new decisions may be conveyed.