KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, CMC – Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says approximately 23,000 barrels of oil will arrive in St Vincent by the end of this month under Venezuela’s PetroCaribe agreement.
Gonsalves told a news conference that the logistics regarding the importation of the oil are still being worked out with the St Vincent Electricity Services (VINLEC) regarding storage capacity.
“Assuming everything goes to plan…sometime before the end of this month, we should be seeing the first shipment of diesel back with the resumption of the PetroCaribe agreement,” Gonsalves told reporters.
In April, Gonsalves said Caracas has agreed to cancel St Vincent and the Grenadines’ debt under PetroCaribe, its oil initiative with Latin American and Caribbean countries. He said as a result, this could result in the national debt declining by nine per cent.
He said Kingstown and Caracas are tallying the precise size of the debt and that “it may be up to US$70 million, meaning EC$189 million”.
Gonsalves said Venezuela would half the debt of the other member countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean (OECS) that are members of PetroCaribe, which will now be reset to offer fuel at 35 per cent discount to participating countries.
Gonsalves said there would also be “a revival of PetroCaribe, which has been brought to a screeching halt effectively by certain sanctions.
“And that revival will see a discount with the participating countries in PetroCaribe of three per cent of the price of fuel. And that is going to mean relief for the persons who consume electricity in St Vincent and the Grenadines in a context in which the price of fuel is rising sharply since COVID and since the military activities in Ukraine.”
Gonsalves, who held talks with President Nicolas Maduro, said Venezuela had also pledged homes for people affected by last year’s volcanic eruption as well as fertiliser for farmers.
He told reporters that at a recent meeting with the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, certain commitments and arrangements were made and are still being finalised.
“So we are making progress on all of the items dealing with the housing…it is still in the pipeline but I have had to discuss alternative with another country, a possible solution to some of the immediate pressing housing needs arising out of the volcanic eruption,” Gonsalves said.
Government said 150 houses were to be contributed under arrangement through the government of Venezuela but the company involved had reduced the extent of its production.
Regarding the fertilizer and the asphalt, Gonsalves said it is a question of shipping arrangements and specialised shipping has to be organised to bring in the asphalt.