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Questions Raised Over Refinery Deal

Leader of the Opposition Philip ‘Brave’ Davis. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff

Leader of the Opposition Philip ‘Brave’ Davis. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

AHEAD of an anticipated signing of a heads of agreement today, the Progressive Liberal Party is raising questions about Oban Energies, the company involved in a proposed $4.5bn oil refinery project for Grand Bahama, asking if the developers have their funding in place.

Stakeholders in the company have been pitching their business to successive administrations for years.

Under the last Ingraham administration, despite an approval in principle between the company and that administration, the project stalled because the administration was not satisfied it had sufficient evidence of the company’s funding.

In an interview with The Tribune last year, Peter Kreiger, the managing director of Oban Energies, said its previous efforts were derailed by the global downturn about a decade ago.

Nonetheless, PLP Leader Philip “Brave” Davis said yesterday its failure to progress under his predecessors caused concern in the Christie administration. 

In a video he posted to YouTube on the weekend, PLP Chairman Fred Mitchell elaborated on concerns the former administration had about the proposal.

“. . . We knew about the proposal and had some concerns about the proposal, about whether or not there’s any market demand for this, secondly whether the people who are involved in this actually have the funding or financing for this because they may in fact be shopping the project around,” the former minister of foreign affairs said.

“Having said that we want any project to succeed in Grand Bahama because God knows the situation is so dire in Grand Bahama. The FNM’s own supporters are saying this is the worst it’s ever been in the history of Freeport under this FNM government. So now they are desperate to get something done, we hope the project is real, we want the jobs, but we don’t want a situation where you have a project that is not going to come off the ground and is really just being used to get permission from the government so they can go shopping around the project.

“We will be watching it very carefully to see whether it’s real and we won’t do what the FNM did and try to sabotage it, we will try to give critical support so that a real project come off the ground.”

Former PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts, in a statement, questioned how the project can produce 600 “direct jobs” as Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced in the House of Assembly last week.

He said: “Buckeye (the owner of the former BORCO) located in the Lewis Yard and Pinder’s Point areas has a storage capacity of 26 million barrels and can berth up to eight vessels. I am further advised that Buckeye receives, stores, tests and distributes fuel oil, diesel, jet fuel and gasoline. Buckeye also performs inline fuel blending services to meet customer specifications, provides laboratory services, third party storage and can facilitate transshipment operations between super tankers. It is the largest fuel storage terminal on the island of Grand Bahama and one of the largest fuel storage facilities in the Caribbean. “This facility employs a mere 160 persons, including non-Bahamian staff.

Statoil (the former Burma Oil storage facility) located in East Grand Bahama has a capacity of seven million barrels used primarily for the storage of crude oil but employs a mere 60 persons.

“Given the above data, I am obliged to ask the Prime Minister Minnis to explain to the public how and why a four million barrels storage facility utilising the latest in state of the art equipment and industry technology would need to employ 600 persons when Buckeye terminal that is seven times larger at 28 million barrels in storage capacity employs only 160 persons? The numbers simply do not add up but if the prime minister has access to additional information that the general public is not privy to, he is more than welcome to share the same with the Bahamian people.

“I go further. If Buckeye cannot see the economic feasibility in recommissioning the oil refining component of their facility, what business opportunities exist to justify the construction of another oil refinery? Buckeye’s Crude Distillation Units (CDU) and associated support Utilities Department were both mothballed and significantly downsized for economic reasons. The global petroleum market simply could not support the continued viability of those two departments. Again, PM Minnis must have some information he is holding close to his chest and I invite him to share this information in the public interest,” Mr Roberts said.

Comments

TalRussell 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Ma Comrades, considering the conservative cost construct a new refinery is pegged at $10 billion, and would even if everything went on schedule like clockwork it still take years to construct - Oban Energies proposed $4.5 billion to build oil refinery project for Grand Bahama would be looked upon as a Father Allen's Chicken Shack.... and I am told the Imperial red Cabinet might me considering forcing local gasoline suppliers to stop importing their service stations products.

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TheMadHatter 9 months, 3 weeks ago

I can't believe i'm in agreement with Mr. Davis - but i think his points about needing more info are correct, and Flying Fred's point about the economy needing investment badly are correct also. MANY people in Grand Bahama are living in their cars.

Too bad they are only now waking up to this after losing govt - but better late than never.

Too bad they didn't run a bulldozer to open the road between Princess Towers and Princess Country Club. Why has that company bern allowed to leave that island with a PERMANENT BLACK EYE? Mr. Davis ? It would be nice for the public to be given more info on that. Do they have Snapchat pics?

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John 9 months, 3 weeks ago

No one wants to be seen to be speaking out against any project that would provide even minimal jobs in Freeport with its high unemployment. but isn't this the same project that Hubert Ingraham rejected because their finances were questionable. and him and one of his MP's had a big bust up over it/ and if even under five years of PLP rule they could not get it up and off the ground the government should proceed cautiously so as to net get a Black Eye similar to that of the Bah Mar project. With Donald Trump as president and promising to move the capital of Israel to Jerusalem,some suspect this may disrupt peace in the Middle East and disrupt oil supplies. So america will want to store some offshore.

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bogart 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Yep....the persons to be employed certainly per size facility is interesting but in this type of operations perhaps shiftworks and other backups are necessary plus of course the extra jobs to smoothe over any hiccups in getting started......not an uncommon safety practice

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birdiestrachan 9 months, 3 weeks ago

I have said before and I will say again, any and every body can pull the wool over roc wit doc eyes. He falls short, very short.

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bogart 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Its the art of the deal, pork barrel negotiations. We have had so far the loggers who filled in the creek between little and big Abaco bout 100 years ago and monies borrowed fron Chinese recemntly to redig creekway so that fishes can find their way back again to their original nesting area or something like that and bridge rebuilt to span creek.....we had Andros lumber....Mary Carter Paints.....EleutherabBaker farm, Eleuthera land buyups.....Abaco farms that failed leaving all their Haitisns workers stranded and govt to foot the electric bill....we had Ginn that failed with some bank client alleged story.....we had one southern island where a lot of beach front was part of the deall.....we had one businessness people swapping some swamp hy the airport for good land but Papa put a stop to dat one too.....we had Atlantis with most favoured nation status and threats from someone who got a buildong named after them but thank goodness threats vould not materialize, we had big mega project for Freepott bit that did not happen.....we had huge 50 acre harbour site for Freepoet in Williamstown but it didnt happen.....we had huge mega hotel for east Grand Bahama but you have to talk to former minister Russell on dat one....big plans for other movie business in old missile base but didnt happen over land size .....had Bahamar went bust and restarted...?so many deals ......depends on whats on it for the people to benefit.....all in the art of the deal.....good if you could get the most benefits....but nothing beats trying..... Also around that area is where the bridge to join GB to Abaco site......we had plenty more....but all boils down to Bahamians and Invrstors benefitting..

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SP 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Brave....."We knew about the proposal and had some concerns about the proposal"

Translation

Christie was too busy dancing bout da place and shaking down Baha Mar and didn't have enough time to shakedown Oban Energies investors enough!

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dfitzerl 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Government should obviously proceed cautiously. White elephants are hard to live down.

That said, Bradley is comparing apples with oranges. BORCO had many times more employees when it was a refinery. Bunkering is not the same.

Additionally, it was a crude refiner. I do not know what the proposed refinery intends to produce but because there is no market for crude products does not necessarily mean that there is no market for refined products.

I end where I began, the government should tread lightly. Show me the money.

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SP 9 months, 3 weeks ago

This is total nonsense!

I do not accept the notion that their financing was in question causing the PLP to delay the project. How difficult could it be for the government to contact their bankers and request confirmation of financing?

More than likely, Christie, Ingraham and their usual group of pirates were attempting to manipulate the investor and use them as a political football for personal gain!

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licks2 9 months, 3 weeks ago

ASK YASELF WHO HAS THE MARKET FOR OIL IN THE BAHAMAS TIED-UP? THEY SELL BEC OVER BILLION DOLLARS IN OIL YEARLY. . .SUN OIL! THE OIL CONGLOMERATE IN THE BAHAMAS IS SUSPECTED TO BE SUN OIL AND IT'S AFFILIATES! NEED I SAY WHO IS SUN-OIL? DO THE MATHS PEOPLE AND STOP LETTING THE RICH ELITE IN THIS NATION "FOOL" YALL!

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sealice 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Bradley - he used your PLP job Math.. So this must be a dirty business because there are going to be alot of Bahamians "cleaning" and "serving drinks" at this refinery.....

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TigerB 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Agreed Bogart, its clear that some of these post on here wanted to see this project fail. The news with Bradley Roberts and Braved those made me smile.Ill bet if they was trying to get the Grand Bahamians to work with this same company they wouldn't make those remarks. Frankly I'm excited, they trying, After seeing that long line with person trying to get work I'm grateful as a Grand Bahamian. Let them laugh and make noise on here, its a huge project, if it works many will benefit, that's what its all about right?

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licks2 9 months, 3 weeks ago

They are all "mixed-up" with Sun oil. . .power, cars, aviation etc. . .all bringing them billions. . .a refinery right in our nation could disrupt this flow of cash to all of them. . .I hope ya know who are the oil barons in this country. . .CAN YOU SAY SUNSHINE GROUP!! NOBODY MIXED-UP WITH THAT GROUP WILL EVER MAKE ANY DECISION THAT WILL DROP OIL PRICES IN THIS NATION. . .PERIOD!!

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