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Last updated: 31 August, 2005 - Published 21:36 GMT
 
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Barbados will not sign Petrocaribe
 
hguo chavez, P.J. Patterson
Jamaica's prime minister P.J. Patterson (right) was the first to sign a Petrocaribe agreement with Hugo Chavez.
Barbados has said it would not sign Venezuela's Petrocaribe agreement in its present form.

Caracas is offering to provide Caribbean countries with oil under flexible financial terms.

The announcement came two months after Barbados declined to sign the Petrocaribe agreement during a summit in Venezuela, saying it wanted more details.

That position hasn't changed, though Barbados will open talks with Venezuela, energy minister Anthony Wood told BBC Caribbean Radio.

Specifically he said Barbados needed answers on the following points:

• How Petrocaribe will impact on existing oil supply relationships that Barbados has

• How the work of a Caricom task force on a regional energy policy will be affected

• How the accompanying Petrocaribe fund for socio-economic projects will be allocated

• Whether the agreement is sustainable given the geo-politics of the region.

"No pressure"

The ultimate question, according to Mr Wood, was whether Barbados' aim to have secure fuel imports at the most affordable prices would be best realised through a Petrocaribe agreement that may not be complimentary to existing arrangements the island has with Trinidad and Tobago.

He said: "The Cabinet has decided that Barbados could at this stage just initiate discussions with Venezuela but we will not be signing the PetroCaribe agreement."

Mr Wood declined to expand his reference to the geo-politics of the region but denied that the Barbados had been pressured by the US not to sign.

Thirteen other Caribbean countries agreed to the deal in principle and have been negotiating bilateral agreements to work out specifics.

Jamaica was the first to conclude one and will host a second Petrocaribe summit in the resort town of Montego Bay on Tuesday.

Oil-producing Trinidad also refused to sign the agreement, saying it would hurt its economic interests in the region.

Public Company

But on Wednesday Belize said it will sign the agreement in Montego Bay.

The Belize government has already set up a public company -- the Belize Petroleum Energy Company -- which will be responsible for the importation and distribution of Venezuelan fuel.

A government statement said a ministerial team travelled to Venezuela two weeks ago to clarify certain details of the deal.

 
 
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