Govt., Oban heads still locked in dialogue

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The government and Oban heads are making significant progress in their negotiations concerning the proposed construction of a multi-billion dollar oil refinery and storage facility proposed for East Grand Bahama, according to Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes.

Foulkes chairs the Cabinet sub-committee and technical advisory group charged with examining the Oban deal.

The dialogue started on Monday at the Ministry of Labour and continued for a second round on Tuesday at the Ministry of Finance, Foulkes revealed.

He said the lengthy discussions have been productive so far.

According to Foulkes, government has requested extensive changes be made to the existing Heads of Agreement (HOA).

“The environmental provisions are our main concern and we want to make significant changes to the environmental clauses,” he asserted.

“Secondly, the economic clauses to get greater benefit, not only for Grand Bahama but The Bahamas in general.

“Thirdly, some of the legal provisions we wish to change.”

Foulkes shared that Oban has been very receptive thus far.

“Going forward in the process we will wait on a written response from them as to whether they agree or disagree with our changes,” he explained.

“We have not set a time frame for that yet, but that will be set after our meeting today [Tuesday].”

On the heels of yesterday’s meeting, Foulkes confirmed that a comprehensive report will be presented to Cabinet.

Cabinet will then make a decision on the way forward, he said.

On Monday, Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip Davis called for the entire process and discussions to be made public.

But yesterday, Foulkes shot down the calls as senseless.

“You don’t negotiate like that,” Foulkes reasoned.

“You have to, first of all, inform the party of the changes you want to make and have a private discussion and then inform the public after Cabinet has had the opportunity to make a decision.”

While Oban executives have gone on record to note their confidence in the deal moving forward, Foulkes declined to state the government’s position at this time.