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Minnis Aims To Avoid ‘Blindsiding’ On Oban Deal

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

AS pushback mounts over the proposed $5.5 billion Oban Energies oil refinery and storage facility in Grand Bahama, the Minnis administration remained tightlipped over the deal yesterday.

The Tribune understands Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has been gathering all relevant information on the project in an effort to present a full response during his presentation to the mid-year budget debate, and to prevent being “blindsided again”.

However, up to press time, it could not be confirmed when Dr Minnis was expected to deliver his contribution to the House of Assembly.

Dr Minnis has previously said he plans to “enumerate a lot of things” regarding Oban Energies at that time, and government sources yesterday told The Tribune that the prime minister was fully aware of the public backlash in response to the deal.

It has been nearly two weeks since it was revealed that Peter Krieger, the non-executive chairman of the $5.5bn project, did not sign his own name on the heads of agreement for the deal, but signed the name of Satpal Dhunna, the company’s president.

Since controversy surrounding the project reared its head last month, Mr Dhunna has responded to critics twice - first via a paid advertisement, and second via the release of his letter to the Office of the Prime Minister explaining his absence at the ceremonial signing.

On Monday, the Bahamas National Trust said it was “greatly concerned” about the location of the proposed facility in Grand Bahama, saying it cannot “envisage any scenario” where it could support the controversial project.

The organisation also suggested it has been kept in the dark about the deal, despite the high risk oil refineries pose of air, aquatic and soil pollution.

In a release, the organisation - which manages the national park systems - said it has formally requested an opportunity to review the full Heads of Agreement signed by Oban Energies last month and also asked the government to make public the proposed site of Oban’s facility and all the information it now has on the company.

Environmental advocacy group Save the Bays and environmentalist Sam Duncombe of reEarth have also spoken out against the proposal.

Yesterday, Press Secretary Anthony Newbold repeatedly declined to comment on the matter, and could not confirm when Dr Minnis will address Parliament.

Mr Newbold has held a dozen Tuesday briefings since he was appointed to the post in May last year, an average of 25 per cent or one briefing per month. He has not held a press briefing for several weeks, leaving some observers to question if the government wanted to avoid pointed questions about the Oban backlash.

He explained yesterday the weekly briefing is dependent upon Cabinet approval, or a specific directive by the prime minister.

“My briefings are based on Cabinet conclusions,” Mr Newbold said, “that’s primarily what those meetings are about. Once the Cabinet has arrived at a conclusion, they would say this is something we’re confirmable with and you need to tell the Bahamian public, other than that if I’m directed by the prime minister to make a comment on something or if there is something happening within a specific ministry.

“Other than that, I won’t have a briefing. We’re not at the American model where the press secretary comes every day and the press asks questions. I’m a creature of Cabinet, my post was created by the Cabinet and that is the general parametre. You have briefings based on conclusions that come from Cabinet and under direction of prime minister, other than that you have no right to go out there and say anything,” he added, “that’s pretty much where it is.”

Comments

John 6 months, 1 week ago

The people must unite on this one and not let the Oban gangsters advance any further with this one. Should we march or should we TORCH Red Shirts in the public square and continue to protest until this deal is scrapped or adjusted to include benefits for the Bahamian people. Benefits based both on the barrels of oil refined and the quantities of refined products exported.

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licks2 6 months, 1 week ago

Benefits. . .I thought you were concern for your environment? Your deviousness is showing. . .how do you know what is in the deal? So you already know what the barrel will cost. . .where you get your information. . .while everybody is asking for it or saying the government een gee we it yet? Hahaahahahahaha. . .you just a doc hater there dude! Just say that you don't care for the PM backside at all. . .and be damned with it. . .but to use the oban thing "ta hide ya sef in" . . .lol! That one is low nah dude!

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joeblow 6 months, 1 week ago

You can't put a bullet back in a gun once you've pulled the trigger! These guys have a lot to learn!

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John 6 months, 1 week ago

You may not be able to put the bullet back in the gun, but you surely can prevent the shooter from taking more shots. Especially when his (their) credibility is in question.

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proudloudandfnm 6 months, 1 week ago

This is without a doubt the shadiest FNM government yet..

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licks2 6 months, 1 week ago

Public servants will tell ya different. . .a whole lot of cleaning is going on. . .plenty peoples them want this PM gone. . .HE CUTTING TOO DEEP IN THEY "SPOILS". . .BUT THEY DON'T KNOW. . .THIS DOC DON'T CARE IF THEY ELECT HIM NEXT TIME. . .HE WILL CLEAN YINNA BACKSIDE OUT AND THEN YINNA COULD GO AND PUT THE CRIMINAL PLP GROUP BACK IN POWER. . .OR GEE THE DAMN COUNTRY TO WHOMEVER YINNA WANT. . .I hope it is a group on young nationalists who will continue what the doc has begun. . .freein we up from the corruption and all manner of vileness!

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TalRussell 6 months, 1 week ago

You gotta knows the prime minister is really stressing out he own Comrade red shirts, when even the PM's hired gun spokesman's "Acee" blacklisted himself from holding media press conference in likes four weeks. {Can't make this up what happens when even ya spokeman's - hightails on you likes buckin' billy goat}.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 6 months, 1 week ago

Minnis himself is too damn blind to avoid being made to look like a fool.

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hrysippus 6 months, 1 week ago

This minister of the Environment, . . . ....... .. When he first arrived seemed Heaven Sent, . .. . ..... But since election time he's been as much use, . . . .. .. As a garbage can filled up with refuse. . . . . . ... A pretty mouth and a silly bow-tie, . . . . . .. Doesn't mean that he can't tell a lie, . . . . .. .... While he pretended to show caring evidence, . . . .... .... It was just to gain public prominence, . . . . .... Once the electorate had voted him in, . . . ... ... He's sat small, getting paid with a grin.

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stillwaters 6 months, 1 week ago

Yep......that sums him up. My God..........I expected better from him, who came across as so caring of the environment. Grow a pair, man!!!!!!!

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TigerB 6 months, 1 week ago

Well guys base the argument today, we all will do a DNA government? next election then? or go back to the real PLP deal ahahaha

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ThisIsOurs 6 months, 1 week ago

I think people will stay home

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stillwaters 6 months, 1 week ago

No, I'm sticking with these guys. They will get it.

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proudloudandfnm 6 months, 1 week ago

I can say one thing definitively. Almost a full year in office and Freeport is gar worse off today. So all of these people bigging up Minnis need to ope their damned eyes. To date he is without a doubt the 2nd worst PM of the independent Bahamas.

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TalRussell 6 months, 1 week ago

Ma Comrades, the leader of the red party has become quite problematic for a growing number red House MP's. Pretty damn sad state affairs when the PM's own paid gun spokesman's - does billy goat jump away defending Oban..
Acee hasn't stood in front media answer reporters questions for likes four long weeks. What could possibly be so bad as to wants hide whatever it is - from the public, the media and red shirts MP's?
Then red opposition leader Minnis was well known not showing up on floor House for 3 long consecutive months... while he continued collecting his regular MP's paycheques from public purse.

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birdiestrachan 6 months, 1 week ago

He is the worse. Because he is blank .Those fellows saw him for who he is and they took advantage of him. He has signed a contract and he will have to live up to it.

He is like a sheep lead to slaughter. Does not have any idea at all as to what he should do. They OBAN told him to jump and he said how high. All of that choice property gone.

They will build houses and make big profits. because they are also real estate. No taxes even the 20% foreign workers are tax exempted. There is no fool like a old fool.

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TalRussell 6 months, 1 week ago

Ma Comrade, luckily you weren't born the inner and outer lips of female.

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Socrates 6 months, 1 week ago

under the circumstances, seems the best thing to do is to abandon this project. The FNM appears to be unable to govern effectively so all major decisions should be deferred while they seek out and engage the advice of specialists before making any other major policy or investment decisions. if one thing is clear, it has to be that corrupt practices and outright incompetence, seem to be characteristics that define our politicians.. we seem to be unable to overcome this yoke around our necks.. we are always blindsided whether by Oban or OECD.. how is it we never know anything beforehand?

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bogart 6 months, 1 week ago

While nothing in this world is perfect, even da late great Steven Hawkins RIP ...say AI have issues dat it gan be smarter dan people....dat in 200 to 500 years we sjould be lookin to leave the earth for other planet..... Bahamian saying goes like dis ....da way we make our bed is da way we gon sleep in it... Decision on oil refonery should be wid MPs 5 or so and the people of Grand Bahama who know yheir situation better than anyone else.

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