By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Staff Reporter
BAHAMIANS will still get the opportunity to vote on whether or not the country will allow commercial oil drilling, according to Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett, who criticised the opposition for misleading the public yesterday.
Mr Dorsett maintained that the referendum will be dependent on whether or not exploratory drilling reveals commercially viable quantities of oil, adding that the government has “absolutely nothing” to hide.
Mr Dorsett added that licensure obtained by the Bahamas Petroleum Company was granted eight years ago and its terms are concrete, responding to controversy over comments made by BPC CEO Simon Potter earlier this month.
Mr Potter told potential investors in London that BPC’s financial deal with the government is “second to none” and “music to people’s ears” and also that the oil-drilling referendum discussion had been removed by the government.
However, Mr Potter has since told the government that he was misquoted, according to Mr Dorsett, who added that Mr Potter was entitled to his opinion.
“At the end of the day they’re in business,” Mr Dorsett said, “I would assume they’re in business for a profit. The reality is the royalty terms under his license were negotiated became a part of the contract eight years ago, and so that is the structure of our regulatory framework. When one is issued an exploratory licence, the royalty fees associated with production is determined at the time that you issue the license.”
Mr Dorsett added: “The terms are entrenched in contract, unless the agreement itself is terminated, but he’s got a legally binding contract.”
FNM deputy leader Loretta Butler-Turner accused the government of keeping Bahamians in the dark on oil exploration this week, demanding a response to the “deeply troubling” comments by Mr Potter.
She accused the PLP of again putting foreign interests first and the Bahamian people “dead last” in terms of providing information and consultation on potential oil resources owned by the Bahamas.
Underscoring the involvement of the former administration, Mr Dorsett charged that the royalties negotiated by the FNM in 1997 were significantly lower than the rates contracted in 2005 for BPC.
He added that former Environment Minister Earl Deveaux and Mrs Butler-Turner were both members of the former Cabinet with oversight of the BPC agreement and the oil exploration moratorium.
Mr Dorsett said the government had enlisted the support of the Commonwealth Secretariat for guidance on financial modelling and capacity development. There is currently only one officer dedicated to the Petroleum Unit, he said.
“This administration,” said Mr Dorsett, “fully intends to put in place the environmental regulatory framework to govern oil drilling within the borders of this country even prior to the construction of exploratory wells. This process has already begun and when the draft legislation is completed it will be shared with Bahamians for broad consultation and national discussion.
He added: “The Free National Movement with such misleading statements continue to show the Bahamian people that they are not a viable alternative to govern this country. This administration will not be distracted in our efforts to advance this country on behalf of the Bahamian people by the opposition which continues to try to cast aspersions on this administration to further their political agenda.
ThisIsOurs 9 years, 5 months ago
So if you find massive quantities of oil, will you really listen to the Bahamian public if they vote no? I can hear the "jobs" argument now.
jlcandu 9 years, 5 months ago
Minister Dorsett, Stop blaming the opposition for this!! Jeff Lloyd radio programme yesterday played the telephone conversation of Mr. Porter of BPC, and he clearly stated that the referendum was off the table.
Bahamians are beginning to understand that this potential deal with BPC is only "sweet" for the company, and as usual, the average Bahamian will be left out to dry.
ohdrap4 9 years, 5 months ago
Let's schedule this referendum on March 15,2014.
This should accomplish the task of keeping VAT a big secret.
November 2013- referendum on the constitution December 2013- Christmas -- the country stops and the junkanoo groups will keep the headlines going till the end of January February 2014-- the valentine's day will keep the men working to buy perfume April 2014- there will be Easter May 2014- the mother's day will keep the men working to buy perfume and refrigerators
As you can see, there is nothing to keep thm distracted in March 2014
concernedcitizen 9 years, 5 months ago
Good one ...
concernedcitizen 9 years, 5 months ago
It really doesn,t matter we had a ""referendum " on numbers houses .On my little family island still more numbers shops then food stores and the numbers open everyday of the week and holidays . From early morning till night they in and out spinning w/ glazed eyes like crack heads .The day we do drill for errl that date will be played in record numbers by the poor while the powers that be are drinking champaine drunk w/ errl money dreams ..
Sign in to comment
Or login with: