EXCLUSIVE: Oban officials welcome new HOA

Oban Energies President, Satpal Dhunna.

Oban Energies officials are welcoming the new heads of agreement (HOA) expected to be signed with the government in the next few weeks, according to a source close to the project.

A lead consultant for Oban, who wished to remain anonymous, told Eyewitness News late yesterday that the company remains committed to the realization of the project in East Grand Bahama.

“We remain in talks with the government of The Bahamas to do whatever is best in the interest of the Bahamian people and a sustainable, environmentally friendly project,” the consultant said.

Labour Minister Senator Dion Foulkes announced in the Senate last week during his contribution to the 2018-2019 budget that the government is finalizing several amendments to the deal that would allow for the construction of a $5.5 billion oil refinery and storage facility.

Those amendments, according to Foulkes, include a review and adjustment of environmental clauses, economic terms and restrictive legal conditions.

The consultant was questioned by Eyewitness News about whether the new deal would disrupt investor confidence moving forward.

“Nobody in the initial stages was happy with the delays,” the consultant said, “but we are now pleased with the present delayed circumstances because we want to do what is in the best interest of all parties.

“If it takes a little longer to get it right, that is what we’re prepared to do.”

EIA still incomplete

The consultant also confirmed to Eyewitness News that the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the project is still not complete.

During the controversial signing on February 19, 2018, officials stated that the EIA was expected to be completed within 45 days. There was also widespread public criticism of government allowing the signing to take place without a completed EIA.

With a revamped deal pending, the Oban consultant said that the EIA is still “a work in progress”.

“There are some technical aspects that are still in motion and we look forward to the completion in the very near future,” he said.

When asked if the EIA would be complete before the new deal is signed, the consultant said that renegotiations and environmental concerns were being addressed at the same time

“We’re doing the work simultaneously because the heads of agreement speaks to an EIA and mitigation after the fact that proves acceptable to all. We see no difficulty in working both simultaneously.”

The Oban consultant added that executives remain “on the ground” in Grand Bahama.

“We’re confident that the science will prove this project right and we cannot wait to get – in the first instance – 600 Grand Bahamians to work,” he noted.