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‘WHY DIDN’T GOVT ACT ON BPL’S OIL?': Pintard demands why securing cheap supply was not carried out

OPPOSITION Leader Michael Pintard.

OPPOSITION Leader Michael Pintard.

By EARYEL BOWLEG

Tribune Staff Reporter

ebowleg@tribunemedia.net

OPPOSITION Leader Michael Pintard is “deeply concerned” that Bahamas Power and Light is considering a cost increase for consumers, insisting yesterday that at the heart of the issue is the manner in which the government has “mismanaged” the power provider to date.

Meanwhile, Free National Movement chairman Dr Duane Sands described the situation as an “ongoing nightmare” for Bahamians.

This came after The Tribune exclusively reported on Tuesday that BPL chief executive officer Shevonn Cambridge revealed that an internal review is underway to determine whether there will be an increase to billing by way of a fuel charge adjustment.

Mr Cambridge said the review will evaluate if the necessary “triggers or threshold” have been reached to require the company to make the adjustment. He said as gas prices have gone up when an adjustment comes it would be an increase.

 In a press statement yesterday, Mr Pintard expressed the opposition’s concerns about the issue and asked why BPL had not bought oil supplies for the summer when the price on international markets started to rise.

 “The Opposition is deeply concerned with the contents of the headline report in The Tribune of June 21, 2022 regarding likely hikes in electricity surcharges - and more so, with the manner in which the government has mismanaged BPL to date that will lead to a level of surcharge increases that could have been avoided,” Mr Pintard said in a statement yesterday.

“The FNM left in place the first ever fuel hedging arrangement for BPL that has led to an unprecedented level of price stability and lowered fuel surcharge rates to the benefit of Bahamian households and businesses recovering from the economic ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 “This Davis administration was made aware by BPL management and board from last year October regarding the need to extend the fuel hedge to lock in as low as possible a price for fuel in an environment where fuel prices had started to increase rapidly. The administration twiddled their thumbs and did nothing at the time.”

 The statement added: “From then to now, this PLP government has continued to dither with the BPL situation - too busy in receptions and events that do not move the economic development agenda forward in an appreciable way.

 “While the matter has been raised several times now by the Opposition - including in the current budget debate - the government has done nothing and this will now inevitably mean a significant increase in the electricity surcharge at a time when Bahamian households and businesses could least afford it.”

 The leader urged the government to moderate “their incessant travelling, photo-ops and public relations stunts and to take their responsibility for governance seriously.”

 They also demanded that the minister responsible for BPL update the public on what happened with the fuel hedging programme and what the failure to extend the programme will mean for increased BPL surcharges going forward.

 “How much are they spending for the rental generators and what exact information are they relying on to put this so-called back up plan in place? This is extremely important given BPL’s financial challenges and the absence of a strategic plan to attract the level of capital to address the legacy debt, recurrent expenditure and capital works.”

 For his part, FNM chairman Dr Duane Sands acknowledged that while certain factors were beyond control, he said it was the government’s job to mitigate some of the shock.

 He said: “It’s almost as if this is an ongoing nightmare for most Bahamians. There are certainly things that are beyond our control. There are circumstances that we cannot control, but there is the ability of our government to make decisions to mitigate some of the shock. A great part of this was the failure of this administration to adequately hedge, to lock-in predictable energy prices.

 “The other thing, clearly is BPL seems to not want to be direct, open, and candid with the public about what people can expect and so I think they’re trying to ease this burden by drip feeding it a little bit at a time - there might be a price increase.

 “Now they’re saying it is going to be a price increase. It’s a horrible, horrible summer that Bahamians need to dread given the reduction in buying power because of inflation. The increased cost of food in the food stores, the increased price of gas at the pumps and now energy.”

Comments

Proguing 3 days, 22 hours ago

It is the duty of our government to provide the cheapest energy to the country. Russian oil is available with a 20% to 30% discount to world prices. Russian oil could lower everyone’s energy bills. Our government was elected to look after the Bahamian people, not the Ukrainian people, so let’s get that cheap oil and end the useless bickering.

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AnObserver 3 days, 21 hours ago

Ahh, blood oil. My favorite kind of oil.

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Proguing 3 days, 20 hours ago

Do you know that the biggest importer of Russian energy today is Europe?

And when the US invaded Iraq, I don't remember us taking any sanctions on the USA.

And oil from Saudi Arabia is even more bloody. If you don't believe me go ask in Yemen or the Kashogy family...

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OMG 3 days, 19 hours ago

Wrong. China, Pakistan and India

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Proguing 3 days, 18 hours ago

China for oil only, Europe imports most of it's natural gas from Russia.

But the point is that almost everyone is still importing Russian energy, so why not the Bahamas, if this can lower the cost of electricity, grocery and gas bills?

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Bobsyeruncle 3 days, 14 hours ago

The cost of getting it here is probably prohibitive. No pipelines, so it would have to be transported by ship, and that's an awful long way. The price of Russian oil is also at an all time high, and the State is just raking in the Rubles.

Also, not all of Europe is reliant on Russian gas. Only a few countries primarily import Russian gas, with Germany being the most prominent.

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Sickened 3 days, 21 hours ago

The cheapest diamonds are those dug out by small children in tiny little holes that collapse all the time with a grown man with an AK47 making sure he don't come out until he get's something. Maybe government should mandate that our jewelers only import these precious metals so that they are cheaper for us?

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Proguing 3 days, 20 hours ago

Can't compare, diamonds don't power your house or increase transport costs.

And no children are involved in the extraction of oil in Russia.

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jamesg30 3 days, 18 hours ago

No just political dissidents held against their will. Regardless, suggesting we buy oil from Russia now is just pathetic.

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Proguing 3 days, 16 hours ago

Errr political dissidents are cut to pieces or beheaded in Saudi Arabia (which you will agree is a lot worse) and that has not stopped anyone from importing their oil.

By the way Ukraine is also holding political dissidents against their will, so what should we do about that?

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jamesg30 3 days, 13 hours ago

Your point is well taken. Both countries are horrible when it comes to human rights. Just horrible. We should not buy oil from either one, but right now Russia is actively killing thousands and thousands of Ukrainians in their sovereign country. I know there is no scale for energy producers related to how horrible one particular country is in comparison to another. I do know that my gut reaction is that we should support the rest of the European Countries and U.S. and treat Russia like the pariah Putin and his sycophants are and not buy energy from them. One man's opinion.

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LastManStanding 3 days, 19 hours ago

We could never buy Russian oil because the Bahamas is not an independent nation. We will jump as high as the State Department tells us to because we have no other choice in the matter.

Regarding Saudi oil, you are 100% right but don't expect the average Bahamian to be able to point out where Saudi Arabia is on a map much less understand a complex situation like Yemen. TV pundits and the Facebook algorithm don't push it because there is no political convenience in doing so, so most people have no idea what is even going on in that region. Society is formed around the lowest common denominator.

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ted4bz 2 days, 18 hours ago

Excellent! The people do not know this, and they seem not interested. They think their government is free to act as they feel they should. You do your best to tell them otherwise, but they do not want that, they want only what their government tell them, emptiness or lies.

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jamesg30 3 days, 22 hours ago

I agree with everything you said. In your first sentence. After that you are so morally bankrupt in your opinion.

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jamesg30 3 days, 18 hours ago

I was referring to the first post at the top of the blog

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Baha10 3 days, 22 hours ago

Perhaps a worse realization to consider is if Oban had not become politicized we would have have the largest Bulk Oil Storage Facility in the Caribbean, which could have been filled with Oil below $15+/- a Barrel in 2020, as opposed to current $120+/- … and still increasing🤯

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KapunkleUp 3 days, 21 hours ago

The FNM should have practiced what they are now preaching. In 2020 oil futures were negative. Why did the FNM not load up on FREE oil back then? Sick and tired of these clowns playing us all for fools.

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Sickened 3 days, 21 hours ago

Because those futures were very short lived and for a specific delivery date. We don't have enough storage capacity to take advantage of that once in a lifetime opportunity.

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KapunkleUp 3 days, 20 hours ago

You are absolutely right. However, I am curious if the government took advantage to buy what it could use at that time. My guess is no.

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benniesun 3 days, 20 hours ago

fester: [1913 Webster] 2. To be inflamed; to grow virulent, or malignant; to grow in intensity; to rankle.

The Nightmare on Tucker Road is only beginning to fester.

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LastManStanding 3 days, 18 hours ago

Here is a better question : why is the power still shutting off in 2022?

It amazes me how all of these politicians start asking questions the minute they get out of office while doing absolutely nothing to fix the problems while in. My power has been shutting off under the PLP and FNM, it really hasn't made a difference which group of buffoons were in power, yet we still see so many waving red and yellow flags at election time as if either party is actually doing something to fix the problems that we face.

We are in the 21st century, please do better. I really don't expect it though.

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tribanon 3 days, 14 hours ago

Cruel Davis and his buddy the very greedy Snake have ordained that the Bahamian people shall be made to sweat day and night in the sweltering heat of Summer if they refuse pay a hell of a lot more for electricity in order to keep Snake laughing all the way to the bank with his exorbitant BPL fuel supply profits and lucrative intermediary arrangements for BPL's rental of many large Aggreko generators to boost power generating capacity. Yes indeed, the very greedy Snake is now calling all the shots at BPL with cruel Davis at his side.

Meanwhile, the foreign visitors this Summer will sleep comfortably with all the air conditioning they need thanks to the very generous electricity concessions given by our elected officials to the foreign owned hotel properties and their foreign operators.

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alleycat 2 days, 21 hours ago

I have lived in Abaco since 1992, never had a power bill, never lost power (including during and after Floyd and Dorian). Go solar, you won’t have to worry about what BPL is up to.

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