IT is more than a year now since the much-heralded Oban Energies Heads of Agreement was signed – a year in which the leaders of the project have changed and government enthusiasm has wilted in the face of revelations about those they were dealing with.
After a game of musical chairs at the company, the new president is Alexander Grikitis, and he is the project’s principal cheerleader too – telling reporters yesterday that he was “100 percent” confident the $5.5bn oil storage and refinery project will go ahead.
He of course has replaced Satpal Dhunna, who listed himself as managing director of a company who denied he ever held such a title, and whose signature was the centre of contention when the company’s non-executive chairman, Peter Krieger, appeared to sign Dhunna’s name and not his own at the signing ceremony for the Heads of Agreement. Krieger himself had concerns raised about him, as he was one of three people accused of misappropriating millions of dollars of investors’ money by US government regulators.
Out both of those have gone – but have lingering doubts and questions gone with them? What else might be found out beyond what has already been uncovered by diligent reporting?
After starting out on a foundation build on sand, has Oban moved to a position where the government can seriously proceed with the deal?
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis – after the revelations about former leaders of the Oban project – admitted the government had made “missteps” in the matter.
They were more than missteps, we would suggest. This was more akin to Minnis in the role of Charlie Brown from the Peanuts cartoon, who is always fooled by his friend Lucy who places a football for him to kick, promising she won’t pull it away at the last minute only to do so. He’s already taken one run at the Oban football only for it to be whisked away – is he all set for a second try?
When the deal was done originally, Dr Minnis said the Bahamas Investment Authority “would’ve done financial assessments to ensure funding is there and that (Oban) can complete the project” and that the government would insist on environmental impact assessment and environmental management plans being done to ensure “complete safety of each and every Bahamian as well as the environment”.
Fast forward to yesterday, and Dr Minnis says they are still assessing what is best, and “ensuring we do all the proper investigations, ensure environment impact studies, ensure our environment is protected”. That doesn’t sound like much of anything has been done in a year.
Certainly, his conclusion of “whatever is in the best interest of The Bahamas will be done” is a lot less enthusiastic than his past comments – and some way short of new Oban president’s Grikitis’ confidence. Indeed, when asked about it recently in Grand Bahama, he dismissed the very reasonable question by saying that he “ain’t talking nonsense today”.
Speaking of talking nonsense, in the wake of the revelations about the past of the now former Oban principals, Dr Minnis told reporters it was essential to review the Heads of Agreement before coming after him, adding: “It’s like you sitting on the moon with a fishing line, dropping that line and trying to catch one fish on earth; you don’t know where the hell it going throughout the universe.”
While we wait for you to come clean about the current state of the project and the likelihood of it proceeding, Dr Minnis, we should remind you we’re still here, and we’re still fishing.