By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
THE Deputy Prime Minister yesterday said the $4 billion oil refinery that the Government plans to approve on Monday will help his constituency "reach its full potential".
K P Turnquest, the east Grand Bahama MP, urged his constituents to equip themselves with "the basics" and meet entry-level requirements if they are to maximise the entrepreneurial and employment opportunities offered by the Oban Energies project.
The Prime Minister yesterday told the House of Assembly that the Government plans to sign the Heads of Agreement for the development, which also includes a $1.5 billion storage terminal, next week as part of its efforts to revive Grand Bahama's struggling economy through foreign direct investment (FDI) projects.
Describing the Oban Energies project as "extremely important" for east Grand Bahama and the wider island, Mr Turnquest said the Government had been "assured" the Carnival cruise port signed-off by the Christie administration would still proceed.
That, too, is intended to be located in eastern Grand Bahama, and the Deputy Prime Minister told Tribune Business: "We have been assured that this project will still go ahead, but there are a few technical issues being cleared."
As for Oban Energies, a project exclusively revealed by Tribune Business last November, Mr Turnquest added: "This is an extremely important project as it will serve to create business and employment opportunities to an area that has yet to reach its full potential.
"The training opportunities included in the Heads of Agreement will benefit the residents and wider Grand Bahama. The numbers suggested, as much as 1,200 construction jobs and 600 permanent jobs, will have a very positive impact, particularly in technical and engineering fields."
Mr Turnquest told his constituents to prepare their resumes, and "take advantage now" of training offered by the National Training Agency (NTA), Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI), Pineyard Steel and others "so they have the basics in order to make the entry requirements".
The Prime Minister yesterday said Oban Energies will develop its project in phases, with the first stage to feature construction of four million barrels of crude storage; a harbour; and deep sea loading dock to service large vessels. A 50,000 barrel per day refinery will also be built.
Ultimately the group, which has more than 30 years' experience in constructing large energy-related infrastructure projects, will build a 20 million barrel liquid bulk storage facility and a 250,000 barrel per day refinery.
"Oban Energies has committed to creating 600 direct jobs, and we anticipate hundreds of indirect jobs during construction," Dr Minnis said. "The oil refinery has an estimated project cost of up to $4 billion, and the terminal has an estimated project cost of up to $1.5 billion."
He added that Oban Energies had committed to "use commercially reasonable efforts" to use Bahamian materials, professional services and other services during its construction phase.
Tribune Business revealed last November that Oban Energies has hired Bahamas-based Islands by Design as its environmental consultants, with Lambert Knowles also engaged to perform geotechnical work.
The Mosko Group has also been hired for construction and engineering work. And another company with local connections is GBP Holdings LLC, whose principals are George Mosko and Alexander Grikitis.
Peter Kreiger, Oban Energies' managing director, told Tribune Business then that the group was "aiming to hit the ground running in the New Year", with construction set to create between 300-600 jobs "at a single time".
He added that completion of the project's Heads of Agreement would enable Oban's Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to be submitted for approval, and kickstart the permitting and approvals process, with Mr Kreiger optimistic this would begin in the New Year.
Mr Kreiger said the group aimed to begin pre-construction in 2018, describing the project as "a win-win" for both Oban and the Bahamas - especially where the latter's economy and employment were concerned.
Oban was then proposing a $1.5 billion first phase investment in a 20 million barrel, "multi-purpose" bulk storage facility for petroleum products, which will be located within one to two miles of east Grand Bahama's existing Statoil terminal.
The development, which is expected to be completed in 2021, also involves a 250,000 barrel per day oil refinery. This represents the potential return of oil refining to Grand Bahama, and means Oban is envisioning a grander project than the existing Buckeye Partners-owned BORCO facility.
"The majority of the jobs will be higher paying jobs than the average Bahamian salary, according to the economic study we've provided to then Government," Mr Kreiger told Tribune Business.
"We feel it will be a valuable contributor to help the economic recovery for the island. The study showed that for every dollar earned by someone employed by us, the economy will feel a 1.6x (times) multiplier effect. People will be going out to dine more, going to the theatre more and stimulating the economy now they have more disposable income."
Oban Energies, like BORCO, is aiming to exploit Grand Bahama's US proximity and location on major shipping routes to serve as an offshore distribution/break bulk hub to an energy industry struggling for deep water ports on the Gulf Coast and south-east US.
Larger vessels from North Africa, Europe and Asia can have their loads broken down, and transferred to smaller vessels, who will then take the product from Grand Bahama into the US. And US oil and energy exports can use the same route in reverse to get their products to market.