By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
ENVIRONMENTALISTS yesterday branded the Bahamas Petroleum Company’s (BPC) plan to drill an exploratory well in Bahamian waters during the 2020 first half as “absolutely disturbing”.
Activists again called on the Government to publicly clarify its position on oil drilling in Bahamian waters following the company’s announcement. Joseph Darville, of Save the Bays and Waterkeepers Bahamas, told Tribune Business: “We got it straight from the horse’s mouth, in fact from the environmental ministry, that the Government is not proceeding with any offshore drilling for oil.
“For this announcement to now come from a foreign entity is absolutely disturbing. If anything was going to happen other than what was said to the environmental groups, the decent thing to do would be to call the environmental groups in and inform them.
“For this to come up at this point, with no announcement from our government, is absolutely abominable. It is contrary to our national interests. I cannot see them making a public statement without getting some authorisation from the powers that be in the country to proceed with exploration for oil.”
Sam Dumcombe, reEarth’s president, added: “I find it so disingenuous that they talked about no oil drilling but this company is forging ahead. When you look at the climate crisis, the fact that the Amazon is on fire, the ice caps are melting, how many more signs do we need to understand that this is not the way we should be going? We advertise our country based on its natural beauty but, in the same breath, we are actively seeking to destroy those very things that inspire tourists to come here.”
BPC, in a statement on Wednesday, said it had laid the foundation to meet its licence obligations by signing a series of financing and service provision contracts with a variety of oil industry players.
Revealing that these arrangements could slash the cost of drilling its first exploratory well by more than two-thirds, BPC added that they would also enable it to adjust its business model and proceed without a joint venture partner should the need arise.
Tribune Business reached out to Romauld Ferreira, minister of the environment, to confirm whether BPC has obtained the ‘environmental authorisation’ it needs to proceed with oil drilling. However, no response was received before press time. This deals with the environmental, health and safety issues raised by BPC’s oil drilling venture.
BPC, which has spent more than a decade on its exploration project, confirmed back in May that it had “lodged an application for Environmental Authorisation” with the Ministry of the Environment and Housing over its plans to drill a first well in waters south-west of Andros.