BPC labels legal bid against oil drilling as “media speculation”

BPC labels legal bid against oil drilling as “media speculation”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Labeling reports that an application for judicial review was filed against the government’s decision to approve oil drilling in The Bahamas as “media speculation”, Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) said yesterday it had not been served and was not aware that the government had been served.

Environmental groups Waterkeeper Bahamas Limited and Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay filed the application in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The application names Minister of the Environment Romauld Ferreira, Environmental Protection and Planning Director Rochelle Newbold and Attorney General Carl Bethel as respondents.

It does not name BPC as a respondent.

Callenders & Co represents the applicants.

According to a statement to its investors, BPC said it will continue to monitor the situation closely.

“BPC, the Caribbean and Atlantic margin-focused oil and gas company, with exploration, production, appraisal and development assets across the region, notes media speculation in The Bahamas to the effect that a number of environmental activists have filed an application in the Supreme Court of The Bahamas for leave to bring judicial review proceedings against the government of The Bahamas, in relation to the government’s decision to approve the drilling of the Perseverance #1 well.”

The well is located near Cay Sal Bank in southwestern Bahamian waters.

BPC continued: “Apart from this media speculation, BPC presently has no further knowledge in relation to this matter.

“BPC has not been served, and is not aware that the government of The Bahamas has been served.

“BPC will continue to monitor the situation closely and will make a further announcement as and when it becomes aware of any material developments.”

The applicants said the decision to approve the drilling was procedurally unfair, unlawful, an abuse of power and irrational.

The applicants are seeking to have the decisions set aside and want declaratory relief.

According to the application, while BPC is not a named respondent, and should not be allowed to “be heard on this application or at all in this action” until the trial of the motion of leave is granted, the company has allegedly “already begun to harry, beleaguer, oppress, harass and attempt to frustrate the applicants with demands that they are not entitled to make”.

The applications are challenging Ferreira’s decision to grant environmental approvals in February; approved changes to the project and a new environmental impact assessment (EIA) in November; 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.