NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The government’s decision to approve Bahamas Petroleum Company’s (BPC) exploration period that would allow the company to drill an exploratory well before December 2020 came as a “shock”, according to environmentalist Joseph Darville, the chairman of the non-profit organization, Save The Bays (STB).
BPC said in a statement that it received formal notification from the government as to the “term of the second exploration period of the company’s four southern licenses in the territorial waters of The Bahamas, confirming that the second exploration period of the licenses is extended until 31 December 2020”.
The government did not make a formal announcement.
Darville made it clear that he is against any drilling in Bahamian waters, and expressed his continued concern with the government’s decision.
He also said it was also “disturbing” that the company broke the news.
“When you have a foreign entity breaking the news like this locally it is extremely disconcerting,” he said.
“Any sort of news about something significant and potentially dangerous of an event that would take place in our waters, I would have thought, and I think all of us would have thought the announcement would have come initially from the government, that this was going to be extended.”
He continued, “Every news media should be puzzling about that,” he said.
“That is absolutely disturbing.”
According to Darville, the Bahamian people should have been allowed to have their say by way of a referendum.
He said, “We are adamant that if any oil drilling is going to be done in our waters — because… we survive on our pristine waters, whether it is going to be from when tourists come or whether it is going to be from our marine resources in the water —Bahamians should have a say into whether or not we are going to take that potential cataphoric [risk of] accident with respect to our clean waters.”
BPC advised that the government has engaged Black & Veatch to consult on environmental issues related to the drilling.
The company said it is in discussions to enlist a farm-in partner to assist with the initial exploration.
“The confirmation from the government of The Bahamas that the current term of our four southern licenses extends to 31 December 2020 provides the company with a certainty of tenure over the company’s licenses, replacing any perceived above ground issues with complete clarity in fact and law,” BPC’s CEO Simon Potter said.
“This position has been arrived at following extensive government consultation and whilst this has taken the company a while to establish, there is now a very clear two-year window to advance plans for and to drill an exploratory well providing certainty to potential partners as we move forward in our farm-out discussions.
“Today’s news will add considerable impetus to this process.”