THIS IS A SIGNIFICANT MILESTONE for Barbados and BHP Billiton. We are optimistic that these initial exploration activities will deliver value not only to our shareholders but also to the nation and the people of Barbados.
We are an Australian company based in Houston, Texas. We are the world’s largest mining and resources company – in fact one of the largest corporations in the world – and we have operated all over the globe for more than 100 years.
Our portfolio is highly diversified. The BHP Billiton energy portfolio includes oil, gas, coal, and uranium; our metals portfolio includes those used in energy infrastructure and renewables. Taken as a whole, BHP Billiton delivers the resources that fuel and sustains economic growth. The breadth of our resources portfolio, our historical operational performance and our long term approach to resource development distinguish us from most other companies in this industry. And we feel this strategic partnership with BHP Billiton provides the Government of Barbados with a distinct advantage.
Our industry leading operational performance is complemented by our distinctive operational behaviour. The first value in the BHP Billiton Charter is sustainability: “putting health and safety first, being environmentally responsible and supporting our communities”. Everywhere we work, these priorities are a central focus. BHP Billiton is considered one of the safest oil and gas companies in the industry, with a focus on environmental responsibility and the communities in which we work.
We are not, of course, the first to explore for hydrocarbons in Barbados. The first commercial production of hydrocarbons in Barbados began at the end of the 19th century. Since that time, a number of companies have operated here, working in the very complex and challenging geology. Current onshore production from the Woodbourne field, is about 1 000 barrels of oil per day. BHP Billiton aims to build on these efforts by exploring in the offshore deep water province.
The Carlisle Bay and Bimshire blocks lie within a geologic province known as the Barbados Accretionary Prism in 1 200 to 2 000 metres of water, between 40 and 140 kilometres south east of the island. The acreage covers some 5 000 square kilometres. The exploration process will proceed in phases, with each building on the other and dependent on the previous phase. This incremental process is highly effective, and one that the industry has used successfully in oil and gas exploration and development around the world.
The benefits to communities where we work go beyond revenue. We are proud as a company that where BHP Billiton is successfully producing oil and gas, we work to ensure these benefits are shared between our shareholders, our partner nations and their people. BHP Billiton has committed to putting this into action starting in exploration: through the training and development of Ministry of Energy personnel and other Barbadian nationals, as well as through a scholarship programme that will be set up under each of our exploration licenses.
BHP Billiton is excited to work with the people of Barbados as we begin the exploration of the Barbados deepwater frontier – building on BHP Billiton’s success in challenging deep water exploration in the Gulf of Mexico and around the world. We are hopeful for bright prospects ahead.
Dr Niall McCormack is vice president, exploration, BHP Billiton
Dr Niall McCormack made these remarks last week as he signed licences giving BHP Billiton permission to start exploration offshore Barbados.