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Pm’S Anti-Oil Stance ‘Music To Our Ears’: Declaration Against Drilling Delights Lobby Fighting Bpc’S Plans

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis speaking in Abaco on Friday. (BIS Photos/Yontalay Bowe)

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis speaking in Abaco on Friday. (BIS Photos/Yontalay Bowe)

By NEIL HARTNELL and

RASHAD ROLLE

Environmental activists spent the weekend celebrating after Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis revealed he is “totally against” oil drilling in Bahamian waters.

In a statement which will have shocked Bahamas Petroleum Company, Dr Minnis also suggested 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.”

Attorney Fred Smith, who represents Waterkeepers Bahamas and the Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay (Save The Bays), said: “To hear the Prime Minister, who is the heart of the Government, say he is against oil drilling is music to our ears. It is an exquisite expression of transparent fresh air.”

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.

Last 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.

In a statement over the weekend, PLP Chairman Fred Mitchell blasted Dr Minnis’ comments.

He said: “The Prime Minister has surely lost it. In distancing himself from oil drilling in the wake of the drilling rights issues to the Bahamas Petroleum Company - a licence he incidentally approved - his disingenuous words came off as the aimless ramblings of a nincompoop.

“The record clearly shows that upon coming to office in May, 2017, the FNM government knew that a condition of the licence was that BPC had to drill by April 2017 and the delay was caused by the insistence of the PLP that the environmental safeguards in new legislation be put in place. The incoming Minnis administration reviewed the matter and decided to proceed.

“The point is the country is a country of laws. His administration breached other duly signed contracts. So do not blame the PLP. He must accept responsibility for his own decisions.

“The comments in Abaco will show that in the face of this, the Prime Minister is clueless and once again proves that he doesn’t have the competence to address serious matters on behalf of the Bahamian people.

“The Prime Minister was pandering to his political quacks in the... Save the Bays organisation because he thinks that is the popular thing to do. In the process, the Prime Minister’s credibility and integrity continue to take a vicious public beating due to his habitual duplicity and hypocrisy on any number of national issues.”

For its part, Our Islands, Our Future praised Dr Minnis yesterday for his comments.

“We applaud and commend the Prime Minister for expressing his total opposition to oil drilling and recognising the grave economic and environmental risks that it poses for our country. We view his statements as a game-change for the public conversation on this most important issue.

“The Bahamas can be proud that it has an enlightened and progressive leader who not only understands what is in the best interest of his country, but also aspires to lead the region in navigating the path toward an end to dependence on fossil fuels. The coalition maintains that the BPC project is a terrible deal for the Bahamas and we hope that the Minnis administration will respect the rule of law with regard to the judicial review application that seeks to examine whether or not BPC’s licenses and approvals were granted properly.”

Comments

Porcupine 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Not so fast. They are on their way. Who is out there to stop them?

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ColumbusPillow 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Problem; foreign investment is fleeing on the expected death of BPC. Second problem; !!.3% unemployment. Third problem; $9 billion debt. Fourth problem; where are the tourists?

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Proguing 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Foreign investment is celebrating the expected death of BPC. The country's oil risks (oil spills, bad image, corruption etc) have been removed.

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Porcupine 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Go away Columbo. Go away. You and your oil drilling rig, Go home.

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Porcupine 2 months, 3 weeks ago

They are still scheduled to drill. Who will be there to stop them?

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tribanon 2 months, 3 weeks ago

No one should hold their breath for Minnis to make public the terms of so called drilling "license" that Mitchell points out expired in April 2017. And the reason Minnis will not do so is because it will paint him as the untruthful clown that he truly is.

Minnis knows full well his administration (in fact Minnis himself personally, through the Office of The PM ) approved the extension of the drilling license that should have remained expired. Only now because of all the political flack the FNM is taking from so many Bahamians concerned about preserving their world-renowned natural marine habitat, is Minnis wagging his lying tongue to untruthfully say he was always totally against oil drilling in our territorial waters.

Let's not be too quick to forget this is the very same untruthful man who promised us time and time again during the last general election campaign that his FNM administration would not increase VAT. Then, very shortly after the May 2017 general election, his administration increased the VAT rate by a whopping 60%, from 7.5% to 12%. And some are saying if the FNM miraculously wins the next general election, Minnis has every intention of once again increasing the VAT rate, from 12% to 20%.

Minnis is so enraptured by and juiced on political power, he will say and do anything to keep it. We've all witnessed that first hand throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

Bottom line, the BPC shysters are laughing at the lip service Minnis is giving his Bahamian minions. And the proof of that will be when the drilling starts!

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TalRussell 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Is there an individual, relationship, group, or thing of which the premiership of Comrade Mr. Minnis, won't take a nosedive at or against as em's gears up in general election preppin' mode?
Em's had his own selfish power grab reason on the day and hour when he snatched responsibility for the environment out from under his own environment minister - thus relocating portfolio to the office of prime minister (OPM) - and his environment minister Rommi, only learned about his underhanded dealings after he was contacted by a reporter for comment.
Shakehead a quick once for upyeahvote this true to the word story best describes how his man's premiership handles relationships with his cabinet colleagues, a slow twice for not?

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ThisIsOurs 2 months, 2 weeks ago

It must be a really uncaring and insensitive company and a completely unethical and devoid of all morals administration that would push a deal to drill for dirty oil in some of the most beautiful clear waters on earth. Not the hemisphere, the entire earth. Its completely unbelievable when you think about it. Who could come up with such a plan?? AND then sign a deal with Oban and say "so? what's new" when a history of fraudulent activity is uncovered on the CEO? Then say I'm completely against drilling? Who could do that? Pontius Pilate might... secretly get his self serving objectives achieved but publicly seek to absolve himself of any of the negative press. Jesus dead, Christians movement in disarray but don't look at me, I said he was innocent.

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ROMERBOY 2 months, 1 week ago

Our entire population thrives off of oil in one way or another. If anything we could benefit from this company drilling in our waters. Our waters "COULD potentially be harmed "IF'' an accident occurs, not due to drilling! Reading up on the company and closely following the news of potential oil drilling in the Bahamas, it's clear that through trial and error this company is ready and confident enough to drill all while extracting the oil safely in our Country.

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