BPC: “Impossible to halt” drilling exercise

BPC: “Impossible to halt” drilling exercise
The Stena IceMax drillship. (PHOTO: BPC VIDEO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamas Petroleum Company’s (BPC) attorney Clare Montgomery, QC, today advised the Supreme Court that notwithstanding an application for judicial review of the approvals concerning the company drilling for oil in The Bahamas, now that drilling has begun it is “impossible to halt it”.

She made the statement during a hearing on an application for judicial review of the approvals concerning the company drilling for oil in The Bahamas.

While the UK-based attorney did not expound, she said there was a “very detailed, technical explanation” as to why the exercise, which began this week, could not be reversed.

Earlier this month, environmental groups Waterkeeper Bahamas Limited and Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay filed an application for leave to bring judicial review proceedings against the decision to approve exploratory oil drilling in The Bahamas.

Today, Supreme Court Justice Petra Hanna-Weekes denied the application for leave to bring the application out of time with the respect to the February and April decisions only.

Attorney Fred Smith, QC, who represents the applicants, argued that while the judge had the jurisdiction to approve the application on paper, she did not have the jurisdiction to deny those applications on paper without a hearing.

To this, the judge said she would take the submissions under consideration.

The application concerning the February and April approvals, which were denied, make up only a part of the overall application for judicial review of numerous other approvals concerning BPC.

The judge is expected to provide an update on what will be heard.

The matter will resume next week Tuesday.

The judge was also expected to hear an application from BPC to intervene in the proceedings on January 6.

The company was not named as a respondent in the application for judicial review.

BPC has argued that the case is “devoid of substantive merit”.

Aidan Casey, QC, is the lead counsel for the respondents.

The applicants seek to challenge and have quashed Minister of the Environment Romauld Ferreira’s decision to grant environmental approvals in February; approved changes to the project and a new environmental impact assessment (EIA) in November; Environmental Protection and Planning Director Rochelle Newbold’s alleged approval of BPC’s EIA in February; approval of the amendment and resubmitted EIA in November; as well as the decision to approve changes to the project without “an amended EIA and EMP”.

The applicants also seek to challenge and have quashed the government’s decision in April to renew the validity of BPC’s licenses to December; the decision in August to renew those licenses to April 2021; and the decision in November to renew or re-extend the validity of the company’s licenses to June 2021.