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W.I.O.C Tank Expansion Project seen as a significant jump in the rebuilding of the Antiguan and Barbudan Economy

08th January 2016

Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy, The Hon. Asot Michael has lauded the ground-breaking of the WIOC Tank Expansion project as a significant jump towards the rebuilding of the Antiguan and Barbudan economy. Minister Michael delivered the keynote address during yesterday’s official sod turning ceremony on site at the West Indies Oil Company.

According to Minister Michael the spin-offs from this development will not only yield an additional 500,000 barrel storage space for the company but will provide approximately 100 jobs for nationals of Antigua and Barbuda.

"In practical terms, we have gathered today to witness the start of a forty-million dollar investment in the upgrading of the West Indies Oil Company (WIOC) by the building of three new tanks to store an additional 500,000 barrels to the facility. In turn this will provide jobs for at least 100 persons with all the ancillary benefits that their employment will bring, including increased contributions to the Social Security and Medical Benefits Schemes and the beneficial effects of their spending on the business sector”, said Minister Michael.

Furthermore, local entrepreneurs will stand to benefit directly from the expansion of the tank facility, because according to the Hon. Minister of Economic Development, "providers of heavy equipment, cement, aggregate, industrial gases and paints, just to name a few – all of them have an opportunity to sell their goods and services in the construction of this project. This is the multiplier effect on our economy in action".

Minister Michael took the opportunity of the ground breaking ceremony to commend the expert negotiating skills of Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne. He remarked that "the credit belongs singularly to the Honourable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, a leader not only with a glorious vision for the country’s development but also the capacity to negotiate and to bargain at the tables of high finance to achieve it" there are moments in the history of a nation when the quality of its leadership determines its fortune or fate. Antigua and Barbuda is at one such moment.”

Minister Michael who is a senior member of the ABLP administration stated that the government appreciated that to make WIOC into a regional petroleum trading company it would take considerable investment. “A Hong Kong group with strong ties to the financial sector agreed to take a minority equity position and took up 24% of the shares, paying the Government US$14.4 million. Because of the close friendship between Venezuela and Antigua and Barbuda, PDV Caribe purchased 25% of the shares for US$15 million. With these transactions the Government and people of Antigua and Barbuda retained 51% of the shares in WIOC. Additionally, the Government retained - separate and apart from the WIOC purchase - 141 acres of land from NPL at a value of US$30 million. In other words, the people of Antigua and Barbuda got 51% of the shares in WIOC plus US$30 million of land value without any cost to the people of this country and a great increase in the wealth stock of the nation”, he noted.

The export of increased oil-product by WIOC will earn the company greater revenues not only for itself but for the Government and people of Antigua and Barbuda.