So much for the oil drilling.
After all the bluster, all the court hearings, all the protests… it turns out Bahamas Petroleum Company hasn’t found enough oil to make a commercial operation worthwhile.
“Drilling has now ceased, the well having reached a depth of approximately 3,900 meters without incident, and the well will now be permanently plugged and abandoned.”
The statement from BPC makes noises about the future, talking about “future monetisation of its business in The Bahamas, in particular with a view to renewal of a farm-in process” and “renewed farm-in discussions” but the reality is that this expedition has not found enough oil to make it worth extracting.
There will of course be celebrations by opponents of the whole drilling process to begin with – but there are two things we should note here.
First, any future discussions involving BPC and any talk of renewing licences and so on needs to be very carefully conducted. Every piece of paperwork needs to be checked, every required part of agreements upheld. Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has spoken of his opposition to drilling in The Bahamas – so it will be interesting to see how encouraging he is of any such future discussions. It’s election season of course, so that applies equally to those who would challenge Dr Minnis for leadership of the nation.
Secondly, while the debate wrangled on over whether drilling should go ahead, the absence of substantial oil reserves is not a good thing.
Economically, the country is in a deep hole – and having a reserve of oil might have been a financial lifeline, if all hurdles could be cleared about extracting it safely. That lifeline has gone now – and regardless of concerns over this particular expedition, so have any chances of it boosting our nation in the future.
And while there has been much talk of the potential costs of any clear-up of oil should the worst ever happen, now is the time for a different clear-up – of the rules and regulations surrounding any talk of oil drilling in the future.
A number of politicians talked of taking the question of whether oil drilling should be allowed in the future to the people. It seems unlikely that will be a referendum, given how previous such votes have gone, but it absolutely should be a part of each election platform. How will each party stand on oil drilling should BPC or another entity have a proposal in future? Let’s have some clear answers.
It’s also time to assess what BPC has done. The executive director of BREEF has already highlighted “considerable damage to the seafloor”. Well, let’s inspect it. This was just a fraction of a full operation – so let’s see how much damage we’re talking about.
Not that we would expect swift action on that – we’re still waiting to hear about damage to the seabed near the Berry Islands allegedly caused by cruise ships sheltering in Bahamian waters. The government’s gone silent on that – will they surprise us with a swift and public assessment on this occasion?
This chapter is not quite closed, but the page is starting to turn. Let’s not just shut it and forget about it – let’s learn from it.
FNM candidate process
Does Carl Culmer think people can’t tell which way the wind is blowing?
The FNM chairman has denied party leader Dr Hubert Minnis is getting personally involved – right after Peter Turnquest told his constituents that he had “been advised by the party leader that I will not receive the nomination for East Grand Bahama”.
That sounds like personal involvement to us, Mr Culmer.
Mr Culmer went on to say that he “can’t say if Turnquest was premature in sending out the note to his constituency officers”.
So which is it, Mr Culmer? If Mr Turnquest was “premature”, doesn’t that mean the conversation did actually take place but he just wasn’t supposed to tell people about it yet?
Mr Culmer adds: “Whatever conversation went on between Turnquest and the leader, we don’t know about it I don’t know what was said. That never came to the executive or the vetting committee or the council.”
So in a few sentences, Mr Culmer’s gone from saying personal involvement didn’t happen to Mr Turnquest being premature in talking about it and now to Mr Culmer not knowing anything about it. Come on, Mr Culmer. Show some respect for the Bahamian people – after all, you’re going to be asking for their votes soon.