By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
OBAN Energies has not yet opened an office in Freeport, even though its president, Satpal Dhunna said earlier this year company officials were looking into leasing temporary office space at the Seahorse Shopping Plaza in Lucaya.
In March, Mr Dhunna told residents at a town meeting on Grand Bahama that Oban intended to open its offices shortly and was looking to employ staff. He also talked about plans to build a corporate office in East Grand Bahama.
It has been three months since he made those statements, and Oban has yet to open an office in Grand Bahama where it is proposing to construct a $5.5 billion oil refinery and storage facility.
Since the March town meeting at St Nicholas Baptist Church in East End there has been little public commentary from Mr Dhunna or anyone else connected with the project.
There has been a great deal of controversy surrounding the company and its executives from the outset.
Mr Dhunna has said that some $10 million has already been spent on the project so far, mostly to nail down the best location.
The government signed a heads of agreement with Oban on February 19 to build a mega industrial project on some 600 acres of Crown land in East Grand Bahama. In mid-June, Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes told the Senate the government would have an amended agreement finalised within weeks. At the time, he said the new agreement will have adjusted environmental clauses, economic terms and several "restrictive" legal conditions in the original document.
There has been much debate over the environmental impact to the area, which is one of the most pristine environments in Grand Bahama and the country.
There are several national parks in East Grand Bahama. The Bahamas National Trust, a national environmental watchdog group, has expressed strong opposition to the project.
A statement issued by the organisation read: "BNT wishes to state very clearly, however, that notwithstanding the results of the environmental impact assessment, even if there are local project impacts that the Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology Commission and the government might deem acceptable if mitigated, we cannot envisage any scenario where BNT could support this project."
The Grand Bahama Environmental Association, a local environmental organisation, is also opposed to the project being located in East Grand Bahama and would prefer it relocated to the GB Industrial Park in Freeport.
The Tribune tried to contact Grand Bahama resident Peter Adderley, who was initially contracted as the public relations spokesperson for Oban, however he could not be reached for comment up to press time.