By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
ALEXANDER Grikitis, president of Oban Energies, declared his confidence in the future of the $5.5bn oil storage and refinery project after a lengthy meeting with government officials at the Ministry of Labour yesterday.
He gave no details about what happened, telling reporters “agreements and confidentiality” dictate he not speak about it. Asked if he is confident the project will still go ahead, he said: “I am, 100 percent.”
Yesterday’s meeting between Oban Energies and government officials had been long delayed. A meeting was initially scheduled for January 7. Some political observers have speculated the Minnis administration would prefer to exit the Oban deal after intense public push back to the proposed Grand Bahama project and admitted government missteps.
Officials are expected to meet again today, Mr Grikitis said.
The government’s lead negotiator is Loren Klein. Labour Minister Dion Foulkes also attended the meeting.
“We’re in negotiations and some things they have requested to change but I can’t really make too many statements at this point but (today) we’ll be more open to talk,” Mr Grikitis said yesterday.
The government wants to amend Oban Energies’ heads of agreement to adjust environmental clauses, economic terms and several restrictive legal conditions. The project has been opposed by environment organisations. An environmental impact assessment for the project has not been disclosed to the public.
Promoted as a multi-billion-dollar investment in Grand Bahama, Oban Energies became a lightning rod for criticism early last year when unflattering information about some of the people fronting for the company were publicised and it was discovered that Peter Krieger, the company’s former non-executive chairman, signed the heads of agreement on behalf of Satpal Dhunna, the former president of the company, at a public ceremony.
In addition, Mr Krieger pleaded guiltily to first-degree felony of organised fraud in 2006. He also faced accusations of misappropriating more than $3.7m of investor monies, which he denied doing.
The Tribune also revealed last year that Mr Dhunna was dismissed by his former employer, CreditSights, in 2010 for “alleged gross misconduct.”
Additionally, research showed that Oban Energies’ previous senior vice-president, Russell Erickson, purported to have a wealth of experience designing, coordinating and managing large logistical supply chain strategies, was experienced only in boat manufacturing.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has admitted Cabinet made mistakes with the project. He was asked yesterday during an event at the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium about the future of the project.
“We would still be assessing what is best for the Bahamas, ensuring we do all the proper investigations, ensure environment impact studies, ensure our environment is protected,” he said. “So whatever is in the best interest of the Bahamas will be done.”