Critical Haiti gas terminal freed after weeks of talks with G9 gang leader
WASHINGTON – Haiti’s troubled natural gas industry is finally on the move again, after an unprecedented seven-month standoff between the government and the United Nations and Haitian opposition groups.
The U.S. energy giant Exxon Mobil Corp. on Sunday finalized a deal to build and operate the first modern, state-of-the-art natural gas terminal on a Haitian island that would have the capacity to export over 600 million cubic feet of gas a day and would have reduced the country’s dependence on imports to the tune of $500 million a year.
The deal, announced by President Jovenel Moise on Sunday evening after talks with Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson and his counterpart, Ambassador Richard Armitage of Britain, represents a major victory for Haiti as well as for those who pushed for the project, who said it would spur economic growth and job creation.
“It’s truly an historic day for Haiti and for this country,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) of Louisiana, one of the key players in the United Nations’ effort to force the project onto Haitian soil. “It’s the first time in many years that the United States has actually signed an agreement to build an economic enterprise for Haiti.”
The agreement was signed by the U.S. ambassador to Haiti, Edward Luckett, and officials from a Haitian company that would build the terminal, a project opposed by Haiti’s previous ruling party, the Haitian People’s party (HPP). The terminal was to have been built on a remote island off the coast of central Haiti. The U.S. ambassador and officials from the company also met with members of the opposition coalition led by the opposition party, the Progressive Action party (PAP).
A day earlier, Tillerson and Armitage announced that they had signed an agreement to build a $1 billion pipeline in Haiti. The pipeline would carry natural gas to the island of Dominica, along the island’s northern coast from the Bay of Plaisance, some 40 miles from the Haiti-Dominica border.
The agreement came after months of diplomatic and political back-and-forth after Washington insisted on the project from the beginning, despite Haiti’s refusal to allow the U.S. to