Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator Kwasi Thompson says that Eco-Oil joins the growing list of foreign and local direct investors showing confidence in Grand Bahama’s local economy, with its initial investment of $10 million during construction and operation phases.
Thompson’s remarks came during the official launch and groundbreaking ceremony for Eco-Oil Bahamas, on Thursday at the site of the company’s proposed office space just off J. Levarity Highway.
In his remarks, Thompson noted that Eco-Oil’s investment provides environmental, health and safety support to Grand Bahama’s expanding maritime industry.
“We must also find ways to expand the support businesses for the maritime industry and our industrial [sector] as well, and increase Bahamian involvement,” Thompson said.
“So, I am pleased to hear about the plans to train Bahamians to work on their land facilities and on their vessels.
“In keeping with our commitment to bring about economic revitalization and to create employment opportunities, the Office of the Prime Minister in Grand Bahama is pleased to welcome Eco-Oil to Grand Bahama.”
Eco-Oil Bahamas is a joint venture of two companies – Queen’s Way Navigation and Eco Oil Portugal, which have joined forces to bring MARPOL Services to Freeport and to The Bahamas. MARPOL is the main international convention, covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment coming from ships, either from operational or accidental causes.
Francisco Quintela, of Eco-Oil Portugal, said that together Eco-Oil Portugal and Queensway, from Greece, created Eco-Oil Bahamas in order to expand their activities and offer their combined services in Freeport by jointly developing a project that represents an eight to ten-million-dollar investment split between a shore facility and a ship to collect the oily waste from other ships calling at the port of Freeport.
He noted that the collection ship can, and will be involved in the transportation of the regenerated oil and other oil-related products in The Bahamas.
“Eco-Oil Bahamas will benefit from the mother companies’ experience, each in their sector so that the best practices will be identified and followed in all steps of the operations,” Quintela said.
“These will include the collection and cleaning of the dirty water, the discharging of the treated water back to the environment and throughout the industrial process, the recycling of the collected waste oil and the production of a reusable type of oil.
“From the processing of the above wastes, several thousand barrels of reusable oil will be regenerated. This could be an additional benefit for the local economy, since the regenerated oil can be offered to the local inland industry at a reduced price, assisting in the controlling of the cost of all energy consuming activities.”
The facility is designed to treat 60,000 tons of oily waste per year, which is equivalent to 500,000 barrels.
In regards to employment, Quintela said that Eco-Oil Bahamas will contract some 15 highly trained employees to manage a fully automatic facility within a high tech professional environment. All employees will receive detailed training from Eco-Oil’s experienced staff, who will be positioned in Freeport to commission the facility.
In addition to the employees working in the facility, there will also be the opportunity for employment on the vessel, which will be involved in the operations. An additional 15 to 18 crew members will be needed.
With the possibility of a number of Bahamians being hired to work in this practically new field in Grand Bahama, Thompson suggested that the executives at Eco-Oil Bahamas meet with the executives of Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) in an effort to create a partnership between the two entities to ensure that more Bahamians are fully trained to take advantage of the anticipated job opportunities that will come on stream in the future through Eco-Oil Bahamas.
Thompson said that the Office of the Prime Minister continues to put in the work necessary to do its part in ensuring more investors consider Freeport as a place to set up shop – both foreign and local investors.
“With the launch of our Grand Bahama Investment Unit, we are seeking to increase the ease of doing business here in Grand Bahama. So companies like Eco-Oil and others coming to our shores will benefit from the work of this Unit,” he said.
“I look forward to a great partnership between Eco-Oil Bahamas and the Government of The Bahamas in this new venture,” he said.
“I offer congratulations on this milestone and we welcome you to The Bahamas, in general, and to Grand Bahama in particular.”
This article was written by ANDREW COAKLEY, Bahamas Information Services.