While remaining mum on the likelihood of Oban Energies’ $5.5 billion oil refinery and storage facility project advancing, Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes said Cabinet was still reviewing a technical report that examines the original heads of agreement signed in February.
Foulkes chairs the Cabinet subcommittee charged with examining the deal.
Asked about the likeliness of the project moving forward, Foulkes said, “I do not want to comment on that. The principals are committed to renegotiate the heads of agreement pursuant to the previous items that I mentioned: the economic factors, the environmental factors and the legal provisions on the agreement. I would like to have at least several meetings — myself and the Cabinet subcommittee – with them before I can give you a definitive idea of how successful that would be.”
While the subcommittee’s technical unit was expected to submit its report in August, it is unclear when it did so.
“We are considering the report,” Foulkes said. “I am awaiting Cabinet instructions as to the parameters of the various matters to negotiate with the principals of Oban.”
Asked when Cabinet will determine the way forward, Foulkes said he could not provide a timeline.
“I do not want to set a timeframe to it in terms of weeks or months,” he said.
“But I am in the hands of my colleagues and the prime minister.
“As soon as I get my clear instructions I will sit down with the committee, [and] the advisory committee will sit down with the principals of Oban.”
The project has received strong pushback in some quarters, prompting the government to reexamine the deal. Environmentalists also lamented the government’s decision to sign a heads of agreement in absence of an environmental impact assessment (EIA).
Foulkes was also asked whether the EIA had been completed to date.
He confirmed that Oban completed a portion of the EIA relating to the oil storage facility, but was still conducting an impact assessment exercise for the refinery facility.
It remains unclear when the company will complete the document.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis admitted in March that his administration made missteps relating to the deal.
The government signed the agreement with Oban on February 10 but the public was not notified at the time.
The government held a “ceremonial” signing on February 19 with then Oban Energies Non-Executive Chairman Peter Krieger.