PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.
ACTIVISTS and business owners have written to Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis urging him to “immediately cancel” all existing oil exploration licences, reject all proposed renewals and impose a permanent ban on fossil fuel exploration within the country’s borders.
Yesterday’s 16 letter to Dr Minnis was signed by more than 50 NGOs and businesses who all oppose oil drilling.
They are throwing their support behind the Our Islands, Our Future coalition which has filed an application for judicial
review in the Supreme Court, hoping to halt Bahamas Petroleum Company’s planned exploratory oil well.
This comes as BPC’s drilling ship, Stena IceMAX, anchored out to sea between the Berry Islands and Grand Bahama on Tuesday. BPC plans to begin drilling its first exploratory well in waters 90 miles west of Andros on Sunday.
“Opening our Bahamian waters to offshore oil drilling leaves us vulnerable to disasters that pose an unacceptable risk to our oceans, beaches, coastal communities, marine life, national parks, barrier reef and to the livelihood of the many Bahamians who depend on healthy waters for fishing, recreation and tourism dollars,” the letter, which was also sent to local media, notes.
“Drilling in our waters would mean that The Bahamas would shoulder all the risks, while most of any profits would be exported out of the country. The first location where Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) seeks to drill off western Andros Island is just outside the ecologically important Cay Sal Marine Managed Area and the Andros West Side National Park. This area is a marine mammal hot spot filled with dolphins and other marine life, and it borders the important commercial fishing grounds of the Great Bahama Bank and the world-famous bonefishing flats of Andros.
“In the last decade our region was severely impacted by the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Deepwater rig was an exploratory well like the one that BPC is currently seeking to drill. Even a partial repeat of that disaster would devastate our tourism, commercial fishing, diving and marine recreation industries. Tourism alone generates 50 percent of our gross domestic product, while these other industries are vital to the survival of many far-flung communities.
“Simply put, drilling threatens our very way of life.”
The letter was signed by several local NGOs/businesses such as Bahamas National Trust, Bahamas Plastics Movement, Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation, Paradise Cove Beach Resort and Earthcare Bahamas, among others, and co-signed by several international environment groups.