Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis. (File photo)
By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis on Friday doubled down on his position against oil drilling in Bahamian territorial waters as Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) hopes to renew its four licences.
The company has revealed it plans to seek renewal of its four Bahamas exploration licences even though they announced last month it ceased drilling operations after having failed to find commercially viable volumes of oil.
On Friday, Dr Minnis told reporters in Ragged Island he had not seen “any request” for renewal, but reaffirmed he was “totally” against drilling within the country’s waters as “our waters should be preserved”.
“We have some of the best fish nurseries in the world,” Dr Minnis told reporters at Ragged Island where he accompanied the minister of works on a tour of the progress of major works on the island. “….I think it’s essential for us to preserve that. Protect our marine resources. Protect our waters. That’s our touristic product. That’s our food source. That’s our economy and, yes, oil may make a few people rich but look around the world – does it benefit the entire nation?”
“But I do know that tourism benefits all. I do know that our marine life benefits all. I do know that the beauty of our resources and our water benefits all and I will do all to protect it.”
Before their announcement that drilling had not been successful, BPC started its exploration for oil in December. That same month, however, Dr Minnis stated he was against oil drilling in Bahamian waters, but suggested the government could not back out of the oil exploration deal.
At the time he explained: “Unfortunately, we were saddled with an agreement that we met there. When we discussed it with the legal department, we were advised that the commitment and everything was signed and basically, we could not get out of it.”
When he was asked by a reporter if the government had found any legal routes to get out of a possible renewal of these licences, Dr Minnis noted it is a matter to discuss both with the environment minister and the attorney general.