By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
A COALITION of environmental groups is urging the government to make public all documentation relating to Bahamas Petroleum Company’s exploratory oil drilling amid renewed calls to halt what they deem an “ill-conceived project” that threatens disaster.
Chief among Insure Our Future’s concerns is an issue over BPC’s insurance coverage.
Insure Our Future is a campaign that brings together a global network of NGOs and social movements calling for insurance companies to divest from and cease insuring coal, tar sands, oil and gas and support the transition to clean energy.
According to Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF), which is a part of the coalition, there is a conflict between Lloyd’s of London and BPC because the former has said it has no record that the oil firm’s activity in The Bahamas is being underwritten by the Lloyd’s market.
However, BPC’s environmental scientist Roberta Quant, as previously reported by Tribune Business, said that all necessary insurance cover had been secured through Aon UK, with insurers from Lloyd’s of London and other international markets underwriting it.
Simon Potter, BPC’s chief executive, in a statement to Tribune Business also previously accused environmental activists of making “baseless” allegations that expose “a near complete lack of understanding and continued naivety” over how business in The Bahamas and internationally is conducted.
In a statement yesterday the group said: “Regardless of insurance provision, this new offshore exploratory oil drilling project in The Bahamas is ill-conceived and should not go ahead due to the multiple serious climate, environmental and governance issues it presents.
“In the meantime, whether or not Lloyd’s insures the oil drilling that has already commenced must be clarified. Lloyd’s head of responsible business, acting on behalf of Lloyd’s CEO John Neal, responded to clear enquiries about insurance cover for BPC by stating that ‘At present we don’t have any record that this risk is being underwritten in the Lloyd’s market.’ Lloyd’s was given notice of the intention to publicise its statement and to highlight the apparent contradiction with BPC statements, and also was given the opportunity to comment further prior to publication, but chose not to do so.
“In response to Our Island Our Future publishing Lloyd’s statement and noting the contradiction with what BPC has previously said, BPC’s CEO Simon Potter responded with the heavy-handed accusation of ‘gross misrepresentation of basic facts’ by the campaign group, and re-asserted that ‘All necessary insurance cover had been secured through Aon UK, with insurers from Lloyd’s of London and other international markets underwriting it.’ He also stated that no one individual can attest to speak on behalf of Lloyd’s as a whole.”
The group said Lloyd’s representatives “have a clear moral responsibility to clarify whether or not any aspect of this exploratory oil drilling in The Bahamas is being insured in the Lloyd’s market.”
“If Lloyd’s is insuring BPC, it needs to explain its previous statements and how insuring this project fits with the vision of responsible underwriting and investment to help accelerate society’s transition from fossil fuel dependency, towards renewable energy sources,’ which it stated in its new ESG policy,” the group said.
“Meanwhile, BPC openly contradicts Lloyd’s statement, yet refuses to publish the evidence that it actually has insurance coverage with one or more Lloyd’s syndicates.” the statement continued.
“Citizens, other affected companies, and representative organisations surely have a right to know and a right to expect to be provided with evidence that insurance is in place. The bluster and insults traded by BPC are no substitute for evidence. BPC should simply produce the certificate of insurance, now.
“Overall, this ill-conceived project threatens environmental destruction and climate disaster. We call on the government of The Bahamas to transparently provide all documentation relating to this project and take urgent action to halt the drilling.”
BPC commenced drilling its exploratory well Perseverance One on December 20, 2020 and has said Bahamians could learn in a matter of weeks if The Bahamas is an oil rich nation.
A Supreme Court judge has given environmentalists leave to seek judicial review of the government’s approvals for BPC to drill its exploration well in Bahamian waters, ruling that Save The Bays and Waterkeeper Bahamas Limited have “an arguable case”.