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Oil opponents: BPC EIA 'contradicts' drilling halt

THE STENA Icemax.

THE STENA Icemax.

* Document says one-three days needed for storm stop

* Gov't official says no new drill ship approval needed

* Brands case 'misconceived' and backs consultation

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

Oil exploration opponents are arguing Bahamas Petroleum Company's (BPC) assertion that a mid-drilling halt will cause "unnecessary safety" risks is contradicted by its own environmental studies.

Environmental activists have seized on the "emergency response" section of BPC's Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which says drilling can be halted within one to three days should a hurricane threaten, to challenge the company's assertion that a Supreme Court-ordered halt to exploratory drilling would be impossible to implement.

"While BPC intends to drill outside of hurricane season to avoid potential disruption from hurricanes, the ERP (emergency response plan) will contain hurricane preparedness and response," the relevant section of the EIA stated.

"In the event that the company is forced to drill during hurricane season, the company will follow standard industry practices for managing this risk (International Association of Drilling Contractor recommendations).

"For example, closure of the well and mobilisation of the rig to a safe area. Time required to close the well and mobilize the drilling rig is approximately one to three days depending on the operations underway at the time."

Casuarina McKinney, the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) executive director, told Tribune Business: "BPC said in their EIA that they can stop drilling and disconnect in one to three days due to an incoming storm.

"If that's the case, they should explain the difference as to why it is unsafe to stop drilling due to a court order but not a storm. It seems very disingenuous." Simon Potter, BPC's chief executive, said in an affidavit filed with the Supreme Court that "significant and unnecessary health, safety and environmental risks" will be created if opponents now obtain a court-ordered halt to its oil drilling.

He added that the company and its Stena contractor had "limited options..... to suspend or abort the drilling" of its Perseverance One well in waters 90 miles west of Andros if environmental activists succeed with their Judicial Review challenge.

"Given that drilling has now commenced into the rocks below the seabed, implementing any of these options to suspend or abort drilling at this stage would all pose potentially severe health, safety and environmental consequences, in addition to extreme logistical challenges and financial ramifications," Mr Potter alleged.

Revealing that his assertions were based on a report from BPC's drilling manager, David Bond, he added: "By virtue of the options and concerns raised by Mr Bond in his memorandum, it is my belief that the drilling operations cannot be suspended without creating significant incremental, and unnecessary, health, safety and environmental risks.

"The drilling operations have been commenced and are being conducted in strict accordance with the environmental protocols established in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Management Plan (EMP)."

Meanwhile, Rochelle Newbold, director of the newly-formed Department of Environment, Protection and Planning (DEPP), rejected the argument by environmental activists that a new Environmental Authorisation (EA) and public consultation was required because BPC had changed its drill ship to the Stena IceMAX.

"The DEPP upon receiving notice of the change in the rig indicated a 'no objection' to the change after the review and consultation with its independent environmental consultants," she said, referring to Black & Veatch. "The indicated changes by BPC had no relation to the impacts associated with the EIA, and therefore no 'new approval' was warranted.

"Upon notice of the change in the drilling contractor, the Department was provided with the documentation regarding information and specification of the rig, its experience, background and capabilities.

"This information was reviewed by the DEPP and the independent international environmental consultant, Black & Veatch, and no issues were identified which would have compromised the identified and required undertakings in the Environmental Management Plan."

Arguing that the environmentalists' arguments were "misconceived", Mrs Newbold argued that public consultation on BPC's project had taken place as required under the Petroleum Act 2016. This, though, was rejected by Fred Smith, the activists' attorney, who said: "They're scraping the bottom of the historical barrel for consultation."

Comments

ROMERBOY 1 year, 11 months ago

BPC seems to be following protocol!

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tribanon 1 year, 11 months ago

Simon Potter and his cohorts in the BPC Ponzi scheme are dishonest and deceitful to the very core!

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concerned799 1 year, 11 months ago

100% sure if an oil company goes bankrupt mid drilling the drilling contractor would stop the drill rather than spend another 2 months and tens of millions of dollars on expenses it would never be paid for. If the drill couldn't come back up that would be a pretty horrid design flaw.

BPC is good for its shareholders, its bad for everyone else.

Turning the Bahamas into Venezuela is not in the Bahamas interest.

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4thebenefit 1 year, 11 months ago

bpc has not been good to its shareholders at all!! ......if you had followed the story for any length of time they have constantly diluted shareholders,....any rise in price new shares are fed in.......very close to a ponzi scheme though!!

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Bahama7 1 year, 11 months ago

Mr David Bond - take a bow. Excellent work.

Let’s hope the new year is filled with oil in vast quantities.

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Bahama7 1 year, 11 months ago

It’s a new argument every week.

I predict next week it will be something like.... BPC’s office is not painted the right shade of pink therefore an oil spill will definitely occur.

Some vague rubbish like that...

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nassau98@aol.com 1 year, 11 months ago

Everyone who does not support oil drilling in the Bahamas should open up a go fund me account to help the Bahamas pay down its National debt. Millions of gallons of oil are transported on Ships through our waters each year. These hypocrites who oppose oil exploration in the Bahamas should give that some though.

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