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Dhunna Defends Oban To Split Gb Audience

By DENISE MAYCOCK

Tribune Staff Reporter

dmaycock@tribunemedia.net

and RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

RESIDENTS of Grand Bahama took centre stage during a key town hall meeting for the Oban Energies refinery last night, with some expressing concern about the environmental impact of the $5.5 billion project and bitterness that consultation was not engaged with them before the Heads of Agreement was signed.

The reaction was not entirely negative, however, as some cheered the project and the jobs it is predicted to bring.

The packed event was the first time the residents publicly weighed in on a project that has dominated headlines in the last month, raised questions about the government’s due diligence efforts and prompted Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis this week to admit mistakes were made and that a comprehensive review is on the way.

Oban Energies President Satpal Dhunna represented the company at the event, revealing he is a shareholder in the company.

He claimed the company has spent $10 million so far on the project, mostly to nail down the best location.

Almost a month after Oban Energies’ website was wiped of revelations of the dubious past of its management team, he said the new management structure will be revealed in the coming days.

He said once people see their “experience in the energy sector,” no fears about their capability will persist.

He hurried away at the conclusion of the event before the press could ask him further questions, however, citing a technical meeting he needed to attend elsewhere on the island even though it was nearly 9pm.

Nonetheless, a particular anger for people like Andrea Thompson, a resident there for 45 years, was the potential impact an oil refinery could have on people’s health.

“I am totally upset over what’s happening and I think a lot of people are being spoon-fed stuff they don’t understand,” she said. “All of us are intelligent people. We can go online and look at things. Pull up oil refineries and health problems. Proven cancer; proven asthma; proven children that are born with birth defects. So don’t tell me there is not going to be smog that is going to be moving across our island. That is nonsense; it is going to happen.”

Addressing recent controversies involving Oban personnel, she said: “I have the court case from the State of Florida where Mr Krieger was indicted for taking money. I have the papers from Florida showing that you have been removed from management and you have your address the same as Mr Krieger’s and the new management team so it’s a bunch of malarkey, you’re tricking all these people.”

One man urged stakeholders to recognize East Grand Bahama residents are not “haphazard people”.

“Treat us like human beings,” he said. “If there is a meeting, give us ample time to know there is a meeting in East Grand Bahama for the people of East Grand Bahama. Everybody coming and make decisions (for us); we need to make our own decisions whether we want it, yes or no; so we say to you, we may support it, but we need more information, more time…”

Before last year’s election, Dr Minnis pledged to consult residents before such projects are pushed. Mr Dhunna said yesterday there was an “intent and a purpose” behind the lack of consultation with East Grand Bahama residents.

“I’m aware we have not discussed this project in great detail with the community,” he said. “I’m not shying away from that. There was an intent and a purpose behind it. We didn’t want to come here and discuss a project that was not tangible and real and we were not committed to. We wanted to ensure we had first and foremost a commitment from the government and from our shareholders.”

However, Justin Lewis, Bahamas Initiative Manager for Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, said he is concerned about the effect the proposed location of the project will have on bonefish and spawning sites.

“Why was there a Heads of Agreement signed prior to a proper EIA in place?” he asked as he criticised provisions in the agreement that says the ceiling on fines the government could impose on the company is $3.5 million.

“$3.5 million can’t fix anything. Just the bonefish industry in itself contributes in excess of $141 million annually. It’s sustainable, renewable, natural resources and the most important resources in the Bahamas is the ocean. If we don’t have the ocean we don’t have anything,” he said.

Mr Dhunna said his organization was “categorically informed by both governments” that for an EIA to be performed and completed consultation was needed with the BEST commission.

“The BEST commission was not permitted to meet with us or refused to meet with us until a Heads of Agreement was signed, so we followed a process that was dictated to us by the consultants that we have,” he said. “The key point is this project will not proceed until an EIA is done, the mitigation is put in place and an independent body appointed by a government you’ve elected determines this is safe to proceed with.”

A breast cancer survivor named Ingrid said while residents would welcome a project that produces jobs, the process so far has been questionable.

“How have we gotten to this point that you, Mr Satpal, as a foreigner comes here and has to introduce this project and we East Enders know nothing about it? I just think it’s disrespectful, it’s disgraceful and it needs to be addressed. We are human beings. Treat us as such. That’s all we ask.”

Among the various residents who voiced unquestioned support for the project was Phillip Thompson Jr, a young man who said he spoke on behalf of young people in the area. He said people are afraid only because of the bad publicity the project has received.

Another supporter chided people for caring more for “trees” than the lives of people.

While most residents who spoke at last night’s meeting were critical of the project and the process so far, the speakers in support of the project drew noticeable applause.

Comments

Baha10 1 year, 2 months ago

It would be nice to get some accurate reporting on this Project, as from those who attended, including the Elite Media from Nassau, there were no more than 5 or so opposed out of approx. 200 in attendance. Indeed, contrary to the reporting by the Elite Media from Nassau, who are certainly not worried about putting food on the table for their Families this or any other Evening, there is overwhelming support for this Project among East Enders, so let them decide, as at the end of the day, it is their Island, not Nassau's and they have suffered for far too long.

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observer2 1 year, 2 months ago

I really feel sorry for the 195 attendees who actually want this oil project to succeed because they are the ones being deceived. No matter what heads of agreement the government are signs this project will not go ahead because there are no financial backers and the project is owned by a blind trust. Its just a bunch of smoke and mirrors.

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licks2 1 year, 2 months ago

Then why are you bitching and mourning. . .if you are right. . .relax. . .or is it that you know you are not telling the truth?

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observer2 1 year, 2 months ago

...not really upset at all. just expressing my opinions.

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ThisIsOurs 1 year, 2 months ago

Esau gave away his birthright because he was hungry. Allegory or real the lesson is the same short term benefit over long term gain. This project will do nothing for Grand Bahamians, 44 jobs in the next two years? I stand by no oil refinery being built anywhere dream on, this is about land and residential development. Neither the government nor Dhunna is telling the real story

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licks2 1 year, 2 months ago

Everybody is not telling the truth and you are? Now you are not making any sense there dude/sis. . . 44 jobs in ten years? Is you just "actin" stupid or is you just being dumb? I think the DNA better get rid of ya trifling tail if they ever want to be relevant as garbage truck driver. . . or bait cutters. . .you is dead weight. . .dead dumb bell dead weight. . . not fit for anything but irrelevant political talks. . . I mean real low brow political commentary. . .I mean on the level with Fred Mitchell and Brave Davis. . .NNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO JUICEEEEEEEEEEEEEE MAN. . .DRIED FISH DUMB. . .YARD CHICKEN SILLY. . .GREASY CHICKEN-IN-THE-BAG FOOLISHNESS. Why do you bother with national political commentary anyway? You suck at it dude!!! I suggest that you get someone else from ya party to do the talking around here. . .please!

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ThisIsOurs 1 year, 2 months ago

Why are you so hateful? It's pure poison. Nothing has shocked me more in the last ten months than the bitter hate FNM supporters (who felt the weight of discrimination against them) have thrown at persons with opposing views, It's like All For Me 2.0. it's unbelievable and unthinkable.

Any objective person can see these stories don't add up, Dr Minnis came to Parliament and said the HOA would be signed on the 19th now he's saying it was signed on the 10th, he told us Kreiger resigned but Kreiger still filing legal documents, Dhunna says they need this site because it "already" has environmental damage...it doesn't add up.

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observer2 1 year, 2 months ago

Based on the article in the link below every stage of oil production causes serious health problems which the people of Pinder's Point and Lewis Yard Grand Bahama are well aware of over the last half a century.

Why do you think the residence of Florida have rejected offshore oil drilling? Why do you think Oban wants to process low grade sulfur rich very high pollution fuels in a jurisdiction with zero expertise in oil regulation? Why does Oban with no clear financial backing and an opaque Trust structure with no real beneficial class want to deal with our government who are novices in large scale chemical plants and international transactions?

Why would the government of the Bahamas subject the people of East Grand Bahama to health hazards when our hospitals are stretched to the breaking point? Its like they don't care about people or the environment. Only the almighty US dollar.

http://en.hesperian.org/hhg/A_Communi...">http://en.hesperian.org/hhg/A_Communi...

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licks2 1 year, 2 months ago

I pity you there. . .that site is just as our environmentalists here. . .sensationalists and using scare tactics without sound science. . . one of the biggest oil refineries is located in the US Virgin Islands. . .for many years. . .I lived not far from that facility for years. . .never smelled one thing. . .no smog. . .no adverse impact on the environment. . .nothing! observer2 I think if you are going to oppose this deal. . .please respect our intelligence and be honest. . .

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observer2 1 year, 2 months ago

suggest you chat with the residence of Pinder's Point and Lewis Yard on foul odors.

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licks2 1 year, 2 months ago

Been there too. . .smelled that odor too. . .chat with one big dude from down there. . .Mr. Laing (he attended school in that area). . .but if you follow the conclusion of that matter you will find that it turned out to be the pharmaceutical company that was creating the odor. . .like I said, I lived near to HESS oil refinery for years. . .no scent at all. . .no environmental damage! The only time we remembered that it was there was when the Senate was rowing about how much more money they wanted from HESS and HESS was telling them if they think they is a "deep hole" aye!

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joeblow 1 year, 2 months ago

The problem in economically depressed areas is they will welcome any prospects for employment without considering the long term implications of that project or the character of the people involved. Everyone associated with this project has a shady past. If they are untrustworthy, so is their project!!!

I guess the saying a hungry dog will eat raw corn is true!

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licks2 1 year, 2 months ago

Please go and check the background of the Atlantis developer after he left SA and came to the Bahamas. . .and how long as he allowed to not do business in the USA . . .and why he could not do business there for awhile? Then check on Bahama owners. . .Hilton. . .Albany. . .man stop kidding yourself. . .Oban them are armatures to them other dudes them so! Check them out for ya self.

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observer2 1 year, 2 months ago

Atlantis/Kerzner, Albany/Lewis and Baha Mar/Izmirilian were all billionaires and proven developers before they invested in the Bahamas. Oban? In the Guardian today it claims that Drexel Hamilton is a bank and they have arranged their financing. Drexel Hamilton is not a bank and based on their website they seem to be a small sell side stock analyst firm with now experience in large capital raising. Hmmm......

Please...can the Tribune dig a little deeper into the financing and Trust beneficial ownership structure?

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licks2 1 year, 2 months ago

Observably you did not check for criminal charges, convictions and or finds for crimes. . .you would find that you, the Nassau Guardian and the tribune are selective in your research of our large international investors. . .those peoples are far worse that Peter Kreiger could ever have been!! Let me help you along. . .one of those billionaires was prohibited from practicing in the USA for a bribery conviction and was allowed to do so after awhile (that was after we let him in here when the British run him away from them) as was Mr Krieger . . .that was one of his long line of crimes. . .the British "ran" him out of their nation because of his business practices in another country!! Yall does play stupid and think we fool. . .but be that as it may. . .look down there for more!

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joeblow 1 year, 2 months ago

It is not everyday that real estate developers decide to diversify their portfolio to include building an oil refinery without experience WHILE trying to raise the investment. Just sayin'!

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birdiestrachan 1 year, 2 months ago

Grand Bahama is FNM Country. So what ever the FNM does has to be ALL RIGHT. it is to bad they did not see "The deceivers and masterful liars ' for who they are.

Doc gave Grand Bahama away. Those OBAN folks saw him for who he is not smart at all no mothers wit and no common sense no vision and no understanding. Just plain Blank, Oban could not take that foolishness to any other Country on earth. then he met doc.

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observer2 1 year, 2 months ago

Agreed Birdie. 700 acres of crown land will be transferred to Oban. Similar to how 10,000 acres of the most beautiful land in Mayaguana was transferred to the I Group...and now lost to the Bahamian people forever.

https://www.bahamaslocal.com/newsitem...">https://www.bahamaslocal.com/newsitem...

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licks2 1 year, 2 months ago

You are conveniently forgetting something. . .that LOI was signed by PLP them. . . THAT COMPANY WAS HERE FROM 2009 IF I AM CORRECT. . .MINNIS GOVERNMENT CAME INTO POWER MAY 2017! HOW YOU FIGURE THAT ONE OUT?

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ThisIsOurs 1 year, 2 months ago

It doesn't matter who gave it it was given and it's gone. The only people arguing politics is you and birdie. Everyone else talking about "The Bahamas"

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TalRussell 1 year, 2 months ago

The mere thought PMO transferring 700 acres of colony's crown lands to "likes" a Oban - should be enough governor-general call loading big guns royal tanks to form into position out front Churchill Building - bullhorns blasting that until Comrade members Imperial red cabinet, does return them 700 acres back to the people - best you ministers order in takeout KFC - cause ya ain't exiting until we the people sees we lands.

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licks2 1 year, 2 months ago

The PLP gave BAHAMA 10,000 to own forever. . .we never get that back. . .but the Oban land is leased. . .we children them get that back after some years. . .we keep that! The give them other peoples our land to take. . .GIN and I Group. . . .they can keep the land and do nothing with it. . .but Oban must do what it says or we take the land back from them!! Speak truth when yinna talk. . .

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abe 1 year, 2 months ago

true http://ow.ly/eh2230e4g8d" width="1" height="1" />

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BahamasForBahamians 1 year, 2 months ago

Is this licks2 idiot the FNM designated defender of this bullsh*t deal?

We see through you bro.

We understand you have to oppose every comment that is actually sound and logical to earn your FNM paycheck but we're here to tell you that you're detraction is unsuccessful.

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licks2 1 year, 2 months ago

What is bullshit about the deal? And if my distraction is unsuccessful. . .then why the hell you talking to me there dude? As for you being sound and logical. . .even tal and birdie them can see through ya junk. As for opposing. . .I done tell yinna light weights around here that I'se a Bahamian and will not stand by and watch some low brow political ninnies attempt to "swing" anybody just for their own political gain! You want me stop "jooking you up" . . .start talking truth and be reasonable and logical. . .leave ya political crap out of this. . .this country need true and honest criticism. . .not yinn dumb crap!

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licks2 1 year, 2 months ago

Drexel Hamilton is a brokarage firm who president is a former executive at Solomon Brothers, the same man who rebuild Keefe, Bruyett & Woods Security Firm after world trade center attack in 2011 and currently guaranteed by the State of Florida because of its training and hiring of veteran financial experts and managers of NYC Municipal Water Finance Authority and co-managers of equity of dept offering for some of the US largest financial institutions such as Pepsi co, American International Group, Kroger and Southern Company. This company have working partnerships with finical giants such as JP Morgan, Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Solomon Brothers Capital Market Unit, Lehman Brothers and Oppenheimer. Yinna Bahamians need to stop yinna myopic one-tracked dirt slinging when yinna want to "get" someone. . . do ya home work. . .and do it fair!

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abe 1 year, 2 months ago

agreed http://ow.ly/eh2230e4g8d" width="1" height="1" />

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observer2 1 year, 2 months ago

licks2, good to see you are actually doing some homework and arguing from a point of knowledge. Very impressive.

However, Drexel Hamilton is still not a bank, and Drexil Hamilton has still not given a loan to Oban, Drexil Hamilton is an intermediary and will need to raise the funds for the Oban project.

This means that there is no $5 billion letter of intent at present.

More importantly, no one in their right mind will lend $5 billion with no equity injection of at least 20%. So where is the $1 billion equity coming from. Who is equity guy behind this project? Why doesn't the equity guy come forward.

Also, because Drexel is a tiny firm, they then need to market to larger US firms, trust me, none of these US financial firms will touch a Bahamian project, our laws are too convoluted, and with the Baha Mar litigation no blue chip lender will come near the Bahamas. Indeed most international banks are trying desperately to get out of the Bahamas.

Last time I checked we were black listed by the EU. So an EU bank will do business in the Bahamas? I don't think so.

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Baha10 1 year, 2 months ago

Well done licks2, "honest" reporting is all that is required, not sensational scare tactics designed to keep our People in the Dark Ages entailing a life of poverty and crime. The commentary about Pinder's Point is interesting, but irrelevant, as Borco/Buckeye is literally on top of their Settlement … and who sanctioned that, Pindling no less, Father of the Nation. This Site is 35 miles from any sizable population and more importantly right next to an existing Oil Facility … plus it will be built to "current" international best standards and practices as regards safety using the latest in technology, thereby ensuring it is far superior to either of the current Oil Facilities on Grand Bahama.

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ThisIsOurs 1 year, 2 months ago

"plus it will be built to "current" international best standards and practices as regards safety using the latest in technology, thereby ensuring it is far superior to either of the current Oil Facilities on Grand Bahama."

Any legitimate company would have separated from Kreiger a month ago after he forged Dhunna's signature and put the insulting I don't need to talk to y'all ad in the paper. In the battle of words versus actions, I'll go with actions.

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TalRussell 1 year, 2 months ago

Ma Comrades, pay attention to Satpal representing to the assembled Grand Bahamalanders that Oban had done spent $10 million so far on the project, 'mostly to nail down the best location'..... are you not least bit curious who, if any, locals got and how much some da $10 million ..... And, where did the $10 million come from.... seems no reporters have any interest other take at face value what this man's is claiming but not supported by factual documentation... like does the ministry of finance know about the where and how whats of the $10 million.... I seriously doubt they does?

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licks2 1 year, 2 months ago

Tal go home and take a nap. . .ya brain on over load. . .two or three of them cylinders are "missing". . .ya sputtering plenty smoke and mirrors. . .stop showing ya ignorance to the world. . . I am afraid that the world may think that all of us Bahamians are that myopic and feel that we only have one horse in this here banana republic town!! Do your nation a favor. . .JUST KEEP YA MOUTH SHUT ON THIS ONE. . .COS MOST OF YINNA EEN MAKING NO SENSE!!

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TalRussell 1 year, 2 months ago

Ma Comrade, what time is it. Home receipt baked Brownies time.

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TigerB 1 year, 2 months ago

There seem to be a lot of tension here, I am amazed at the trash spoken, as an observer I heard all sides but so far the gov't nor OBAN talked about retracting the deal. Maybe some of you who see everything wrong in the deal need to attend some of these meetings and air your opinion. Buy ya ticket and fly here from Nassau or where ever, cause ya opinion against this wouldn't count on here. This bigger than OBAN, from 2004 and beyond we have been hit by recession, the Hurricanes near wipe this island out. I'm am of the opinion that when the census is taken in 2020 the count will far be less because a number of home folk have taken off, to Nassau, Exuma, Bimini for jobs. Not sure how Bahamians do think, we should wish the best for each other and be positive. As I said before, maybe some noise should be made from you about the BEC mess at Clifton Pier with all that oil spill. OBAN haven't laid the first block as yet, but we done know it is a disaster. Sound just like Bahamian.

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ThisIsOurs 1 year, 2 months ago

TigerB, my objection of this deal has a basis in the possibility of an oil spill, but above that something is plain off with this group. This Kreiger and Dhunna characters are bad news. Every time they attempt a "fix" they reveal more head scratchers. A real estate company is now on the management team and Dhunn says he needs that site because it already has environmental damage. Does that seem sensible? If an area has sustained environmental damage you would think there would be arguments to leave it alone so it doesn't sustain further damage, but he argues the opposite. These guys are not very bright. Just like their employers have indicated.

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Baha10 1 year, 2 months ago

Unless we are happy being a Nation of subservient Bell Hops, Maids, Taxi Drivers and Straw Vendors, we better recognize very quickly that we can not survive, yes "survive" on Tourism alone, and if someone wants to invest $5.5 BILLION into our designated Industrial and most depressed Island, we should be bending over backwards to accommodate them, as trust me, $5.5 BILLION will make Oban a Friend of virtually every other Nation on the Planet!

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Porcupine 1 year, 2 months ago

After reading many of the comments here, I feel sorry for this country. The current education deficit clearly began many years ago. Almost as if nobody reads anything other than the daily papers. Anyone who would support a project such as this should have their head examined. Short term, low paying jobs in exchange for the health of future generations? Wow. Maybe we deserve what we are getting......................

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Baha10 1 year, 2 months ago

Not be controversial, but what is “low” paying about Jobs that start at $40k and exceed $200k?!?

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