Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis speaking in Abaco on Friday. (BIS Photos/Yontalay Bowe)
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis told reporters on Friday that he is “totally against” oil drilling in Bahamian waters and suggested that the government would have backed out of a controversial oil exploration deal if it could have.
“I am totally against oil drilling in our waters,” Dr Minnis told reporters on the sidelines of an event in Abaco on Friday. “Totally.”
Bahamas Petroleum Company plans for the Stena IceMAX vessel to begin drilling Perseverance One in waters some 90 miles west of Andros, close to the maritime boundary with Cuba, on December 20.
The entire exercise is expected to take between 45-60 days, and the oil explorer has repeatedly argued that - as a non-production well - the chances of any oil spill will be minimal and it will be capped afterwards.
This week, activists filed an application for judicial review to stop the oil exploration.
On Friday, when asked about concerns about the environmental impact of oil drilling, Dr Minnis said: “I have said that before and that has not changed. Unfortunately, we were saddled with an agreement that we met there. When we discussed it with the legal department, we were advised that the commitment and everything was signed and basically we could not get out of it.
“But if we could’ve gotten out of it believe me, I am against totally drilling for oil in our waters.”
BPC’s oil exploration licences were given during the first Christie administration.
Several members of the Progressive Liberal Party have had ties to the company in the past.
Former prime minister, Perry Christie, once served as a consultant to BPC when in opposition. Davis & Co, the law firm of current PLP leader, Philip “Brave” Davis, acted as BPC's attorneys when it first came to the Bahamas, although it no longer serves in this capacity. Mr Davis has recently indicated his backing for exploratory drilling.
PLP Senator Jobeth Coleby-Davis is also BPC's in-house attorney.