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How can we drill for oil?

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Tribune Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

BAHAMAS National Trust is against Bahamas Petroleum Company’s proposed exploratory oil drilling before year’s end, insisting yesterday that several factors present serious concerns.

Chief among BNT’s concerns is this nation’s vulnerability to climate change.

In a press statement yesterday, BNT said in 2020 The Bahamas should not be allowing the exploitation of fossil fuels within the county, adding that economic gains would be short-term and help shorten the life span of these islands.

Noting the well’s close proximity to Cay Sal Bank - one of the most ecologically productive marine systems in The Bahamas - BNT said any pollution in the area would be devastating for the country and its fishing industry.

“While the BNT understands that complex negotiations may have resulted in the government being legally bound to honour this commitment, the organisation has very serious concerns about The Bahamas allowing the exploration for possible exploitation of fossil fuels,” BNT said in a press statement yesterday.

“The Bahamas is known to be one of the most vulnerable nations on the planet to the impending impacts of climate change. It is now recognised as an existential threat to The Bahamas. The country, its people and their way of life could disappear if it is not successful as a global community in reversing the factors of a changing climate. Climate-charged Hurricane Dorian and the recent unprecedented number of concurrent named tropical storms and systems are clear indicators of climatic change.

“It is patently clear that The Bahamas’ livelihood and survival depends not only on minimising but reversing the impacts of climate change. Consequently, policies and regulations must reflect the global and national efforts to combat the impact of climate change.

“The proposed initial well dubbed Perseverance-1 by BPC is within rowing distance of the Cay Sal Bank, one of the most ecologically productive and economically important marine systems in the country. The Cay Sal Bank Marine Protected Area (MPA) was declared a protected area by pronouncement and by national gazette in September 2015. The globally significant declaration was in fulfillment of The Bahamas’s commitment to protecting 20 percent of the near shore marine environment. It was also in fulfilment of inviolate obligations under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Full Sized project.

“Cay Sal has thriving marine life inclusive of commercially important species including some of the last remaining viable populations of the queen conch. The importance of the Cay Say Bank for biodiversity and the fishing industry in The Bahamas cannot be overstated. Because of its strategic importance, any pollution of the area would be devastating for The Bahamas and its fishing industry.”

The organisation said it understood these historic leases were issued before some of the current UN and national environmental protocols and goals were established.

Additionally, BNT said it was cognizant of the fact that the government of The Bahamas must consider economic development and has difficult decisions to make balancing economic activity whilst simultaneously protecting the environment.

“Notwithstanding the above, based on the country’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and the threat of climate change to our very existence, the BNT strongly believes that The Bahamas should not, in 2020, be allowing the exploitation of fossil fuels within our country.

“The economic gains from exploiting and burning fossil fuels are short-term and are ironically helping to shorten the lifespan of these islands. The BNT is extremely concerned about the impacts of climate change and the general health of the environment of The Bahamas. The organisation is extremely apprehensive about advancing oil exploration in the country.

“Several Bahamian prime ministers have appealed to the United Nations for urgent action to combat climate change, citing to the world how vulnerable and threatened The Bahamas is to its impacts.

“Bahamians cannot therefore cry out to the world that its country is being severely threatened by climatic changes, and in the same breath, boast of a newfound fossil fuel industry. This would present to the world from our sunny isles a hypocrisy that wholly undermines what fellow alliances of small island states have been trying to accomplish.”

Should the drilling move forward, BNT said the nation needs assurance from BPC that safeguards will be put in place.

“If, as the Minister of Environment (Romauld Ferreira) states, The Bahamas’ hands are legally tied and that this first well must proceed, the BNT urges extreme caution. The government of The Bahamas must ensure that it exercises due diligence with the implementation of international best practices and the industry must be regulated to the highest environmental standards.

“Finally, BNT also recommends that if the operation does proceed, and if viable quantities of oil are found, that the government of The Bahamas would ensure that proceeds from its sale benefit Bahamians broadly and the environment in particular. It is noted that as legislation to govern this industry is advanced, that there was also legislation that established a Sovereign Wealth Fund. If there are to be proceeds from this industry, this is an opportunity to kick start the Sovereign Wealth Fund - to allow for benefits to accrue to all Bahamians.”

BNT said from an environmental perspective, The Bahamas has also created the Bahamas Protected Areas Fund (BPAF) as a sustainable funding mechanism for protected areas throughout the country.

As for a condition for the stated environmental clearances, and as a mitigation option, the BPAF could be the second beneficiary of any proceeds from this industry. This would be appropriate, in light of the fact that the proposed drilling activity is in such close proximity to one of the most ecologically and economically significant marine protected areas in the country, BNT said.

Comments

Porcupine 3 years, 4 months ago

Thank you BNT. However, I disagree with the statement. “If, as the Minister of Environment (Romauld Ferreira) states, The Bahamas’ hands are legally tied and that this first well must proceed, the BNT urges extreme caution." Courts regularly revisit cases when new evidence is presented. Are our hands tied in allowing cigarettes to be sold to minors? Same thing. Times changed and now we know better. We need to quit voting in and hiring people who are compromised, or unable to intellectually grasp the consequences of their words and actions. Sometimes, circumstances change. We now know, as stated in this article that drilling threatens our fisheries, our economy, our very existence as a country. No, The Bahamas hands are not tied. This is merely an excuse that should have Romauld fired and replaced with someone with a backbone. Someone able to stand up for justice and tell the Prime Minister to quit being a "science" hypocrite. We are too intellectually and morally slack in this country. It really is beyond belief.

Please read the following again. This should be grasped by any well-educated 5th grader.

“The Bahamas is known to be one of the most vulnerable nations on the planet to the impending impacts of climate change. It is now recognized as an existential threat to The Bahamas. The country, its people and their way of life could disappear if it is not successful as a global community in reversing the factors of a changing climate. Climate-charged Hurricane Dorian and the recent unprecedented number of concurrent named tropical storms and systems are clear indicators of climatic change.

“It is patently clear that The Bahamas’ livelihood and survival depends not only on minimizing but reversing the impacts of climate change. Consequently, policies and regulations must reflect the global and national efforts to combat the impact of climate change.

So, the realization that our entire country's existence is threatened by the burning of fossil fuels would have no bearing on a court of law? No wonder our country is in such dire condition.

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ColumbusPillow 3 years, 4 months ago

The sky is falling. The sky is falling! The claims of climate change are greatly exaggerated. For example, sea level rise is miniscule as implied by so many people (like Obama) building homes close to shore.. CHECK THE TIDAL GAUGES. Note to BNT stop watching CNN to get real news..

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Porcupine 3 years, 4 months ago

Columbus Pillow. You are not reading the science. Throw your TV away. You are deluded by the billionaires media. The science is very clear as to what is happening. Not just climate change, but even more importantly, health concerns and other environmental concerns..The debate is over among educated people. Watching TV is not education, it is brainwashing. You are obviously a paid shill for this ill fated oil drilling scam. The only thing exaggerated here is your honesty and knowledge base.

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tribanon 3 years, 4 months ago

Exxon Mobile, Chevron and other large titans in the oil and gas industry spent decades and literally hundreds of millions of dollars exploring for fossil fuel deposits under the territorial waters of The Bahamas using state of the art seismic surveying techniques and other cutting edge technologies. They all came up empty handed under the generous exploratory leases they were given by our governments and have, for all intents and purposes, called it quits.

Unlike BPC, these titans of the oil and gas industry had the financial means to acquire the kind of costly insurance coverage to assist them with the clean up of any environmental damage they might have caused. BPC on the other hand is a miniscule minnow in the business of fleecing investors who apparently have money that they're willing to 'throw away'. But even so, our government (Minnis) should not be willing to aid and abet BPC in its shenighans, especially given the environmental concerns that have been loudly expressed by so many Bahamians.

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Proguing 3 years, 4 months ago

The PM should do the same thing Perry Christie did with the South Korean fishing vessels in Andros

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DDK 3 years, 4 months ago

SMH. If this government stupidly and greedily allow this proposed drilling to proceed, criminal charges should be brought against it by BNT and THE PEOPLE of this Country whose very future is at stake!

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JokeyJack 3 years, 4 months ago

Most are really missing the BIG picture here. NOWHERE in the agreement does it state how many pennies on the gallon (dollars on the barrel??) will be placed into the National Insurance bank account and added (pro-rated) among the unemployment cheques of Bahamians.

Nowhere does it state how much money at all will go into the Treasury or in any way shape or form go into the economy of the Bahamas - except for the two security guards they plan to hire to work the gate - those two will obtain minimum wage weekly and insults from their boss daily.

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