Barbados Ethanol Panacea Spin Continues…

We all know that recent economic, political and social changes have not been kind to Barbados. Tourism took a heavy hit with the advent of 9/11, and then again as oil prices soared – causing cruise ships and airlines to reduce service to the island. The Government’s position of failing to support the United States vis a vis an exception to the U.N. war crimes laws – whatever the rightness or wrongness of the position – caused an old friend to turn away economically from Barbados. The old mainstay sugar has been in death throes for decades – artificially supported by domestic and foreign subsidies – charity really – but even the Prime Minister had to recently face the reality that sugar exports are 40 million per annum while the civil service alone requires 700 million.

Life Is Getting Tougher On Barbados

Even our latest little burble of life shown by the Barbaodos GDP has mainly been the result of construction mega-projects like flyovers, roads and cricket facilities – all financed on the never-never – to be paid for by our children and their children and so on, for how many generations only God knows. Project cost overruns of three and four hundred percent are routine as the vultures devour the public purse and park their Mercedes automobiles in taxpayer-subsidized driveways. And the ordinary working Bajan buys a roll of Bounty paper towels at four times the price of the same roll in New York City or Montreal.

Prime Minister Arthur recently publically defended the government’s policy of selling off pieces of our little island to keep the wolves at bay – which is as much an admission of the government’s failure to enact long-term strategic planning as anything I’ve ever heard him say.

Sugar Cane Ethanol Will Save Us!

I guess that the government just can’t help it. They don’t know what to do about the situation any more than I do… and that hardly inspires confidence.

But I have this sense that in a frenzy to find something positive – anything – for the future, the government is grasping at the trendy. A couple of months ago, it was BIOTECH. Yes… Barbados was going to be a world-class BIOTECH center. As we said in our article at the time, “Barbados Biotech” Sounds Trendy… Like Progress, it looked like the Government believed that merely saying the word “Biotech” would cause oodles of foreign investors to beg to give us money.

Now, it is sugar cane ethanol that is the magic panacea and the government is ready to throw tons of money at ethanol production and use – our children’s money – without even a proper cost-benefits analysis. The Barbados media ask no questions, and parrot the words of those who will gain from a government committment to cane ethanol.

Barbados Media As Ethanol Cheerleaders – Asks No Questions 

A Brazilian ethanol exporter says “ethanol is about 40-45 per cent cheaper than gas and it is possible for Barbados to reap the similar benefits” and the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation doesn’t ask simple questions like, “How did you arrive at that figure?” or “How much public money has to subsidize the production?” or “Is that cost savings on a per-litre basis or a per-mile basis?”. (This month’s issue of Consumer Reports points out that in field tests of ethanol-powered vehicles, a gallon of ethanol only yields about 60% of the mileage of a gallon of gasoline – so there is zero cost-benefit to the end user) .

Yes, folks. The Government of Barbados has committed this country to ethanol – so don’t expect the Barbados media and newspapers to ask any difficult questions.

It just isn’t done!

Here is that ethanol cheerleading piece from the CBC. It is all part of the process to soften up the Barbados public for another round of “government investment”…

From the CBC website (link here)

The Barbados energy sector got a first hand account today of Brazil’s successful transition from gasoline to ethanol-powered vehicles. The occasion was a meeting between local energy officials and visiting executive Manfred Wefers of Coimex, an ethanol exporter from Brazil.

Mr. Wefers says ethanol is about 40-45 per cent cheaper than gas and it is possible for Barbados to reap the similar benefits.

Charles Briggs, manager of the local cane industry restructuring project, says the Barbados plan is to mix ethanol with gas. In fact he said the mixture is will only be about 10 percent ethanol.

Today’s seminar focused on the topic “Ethanol as a viable alternative source for Barbados”.

Mr Briggs noted that ethanol is only one of the by products of Barbados’ move from a sugar to a sugarcane industry. However as government looks for alternative sources of energy don’t expect to see vehicles powered solely by ethanol on the streets anytime soon.


Filed under Barbados, Business & Banking, Environment, Politics & Corruption

11 responses to “Barbados Ethanol Panacea Spin Continues…

  1. Andrew

    What was the ‘big’ BLP announcement at Bridge Road tonight??
    Anybody knows??


    A gas price reduction of about $1.00 Barbadian currency.
    Much ado about nothing!!!
    It was a diversionary tactic by a governing party that is becoming more and more unpopular by the day.
    But it backfired because the opposition Democratic Labour Party was still able to attract a massive crowd to its meeting in Christ Church. Just goes to show that some PR is just that…P(ure) R(ubbish)


    Talk about “drowning man clutching at a straw”

  4. Green!

    Ummm.. I’d hardly call a reduction of gas(gasoline?)prices by $1.00(per litre? you’re not real clear on this..) “Much Ado about Nothing”.
    Not that such reduction would persuade me to vote them back in for Round 4,
    but I sure as he11 would appreciate an ease of THAT MAGNITUDE in Gasoline prices..I don’t know about you!
    I’d appreciate a decent Octane Rating even more,I think
    (if you know what I’m talking about..).

  5. Economix

    Wunnuh got to burn nuff more ethanol to get the same hp as gasoline, so Gov’t. gyne mek nuff money pun dat.
    People feel ethanol is like gasoline?
    not so. Learn about calorific values and octane an ting.

  6. John


    For a change I was glued to the 7:00 news tonight from the beginning to hear about the big announcement the BLP had to make last night. It wasn’t in the Nation today and I didn’t see the Advocate.

    All I saw on TV was Clyde Mascoll being led up on the platform by a bunch of women in red, Mia holding forth and Owen swaying from side to side swearing things are bright and he will make them brighter.

    Both the D’s and B’s seem by what was shown of the crowds to have attracted a large followings but both really need to stop the ranting and arm waving and go through their points with dignity and purpose.

    By all means have some fun with your opponents but talk to CBC and see if they can’t choose some footage to show both the fun side and the serious side.

    The few seconds shown may not be representative of the meetings but that’s all CBC showed and both sets of B’s and D’s turned me off.

    P’s, if and when you all fellas finally crank up look at the D’s and B’s and be guided on what not to do. Come with something new. Have your fun but be serious too.

    Anybody got to hear the important BLP announcement?

    Please share it if you did.

  7. Green!

    Barbados is a one party state.

    Half are Dees
    Half are Bees.

    Just like USA,
    where half of them are Democrats,
    the other half Republicans!

    How we love our “two-party” politrix,
    – six of one.. half-doz. of the other.

  8. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » Barbados: Ethanol

  9. Guys, the Consumer Reports discussion, as good as it was, was limited to the corn-based ethanol, with US mandated additives, under US market, supply and road conditions, using US-manufacture flex-fuel vehicles. I have to wonder if their conclusions would have been the same if they had conducted that fuel economy testing in Brazil, using its sugar-based E85 and Brazil-made flex-fuel vehicles, under Brazilian (or even Bajan!) market, supply and road conditions…

  10. and oh, yes, Brazilian ethanol is now substantially cheaper (IDB and ECLAC have confirmed this), but few others can match that anytime soon — Brazil has been working on sugar-based ethanol for decades, so for them all the investment has been made (except perhaps biofuel pipelines to ports, and they’re already working on that) and it’s a mature industry.

    However, in their desire to create an international commodities market in biofuel, particularly ethanol and biodiesel, the Brazilians are making agreements right and left with everyone in Latin America, the Caribbean and recently Africa as well to bring them up-to-speed technology-wise. Seems that while they want to be the leader in bio-energy trade, they have decided they need to get alot of allies quickly among developing nations in order to suceed, even if that means all but giving the tech away…

  11. Pingback: Barbados Government Kills Sugar Cane Ethanol Scam - “Thank You Barbados Free Press. Without Your Revelations…” « Barbados Free Press