Caribbean Special Report: Breaking a Habit

Sep 1, 2008

The Caribbean needs to find ways to break a dependency on oil as a means to fuelling growth. Ethanol and biofuels could be an alternative.

Keywords: Caribbean oil biofuels

by Julio Urdaneta

Like many emerging regions, the Caribbean depends heavily on oil and gas to fuel growth. With high prices on world markets, the region finds itself at risk of jeopardizing development. “There is a huge need to increase power generation, just to meet expanding needs,” says Felipe Esguerra, associate director of energy derivatives at Scotiabank.

Venezuela launched the Petrocaribe initiative in June 2005 aimed at facilitating oil purchases by its members. Almost all of the Caribbean countries, including Cuba and some CentAm nations as Belize, Honduras and Guatemala are part of the scheme, whose loose financing terms, based on trade of agricultural goods and services for oil, have drawn criticism.

Opponents say it is a political weapon of Hugo Chavez of more benefit to Venezuela than other countries. Oil and gas producers Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago do not participate.

Venezuela supplied Petrocaribe members with 85,900 barrels per...

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