NASSAU, BAHAMAS – International environmentalists are sounding the alarm over Bahamas Petroleum Company’s plans to commence exploratory oil drilling in April.
Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) received formal notification from the government to proceed with plans to drill exploratory oil wells before the end of 2020.
The company said it has four licenses in the territorial waters of The Bahamas, which was extended until 31 December 2020.
Washington-based nonprofit organization Oceana is calling on Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis to “deny BPC the remaining approvals needed for offshore drilling to begin and to permanently protect these waters from these dirty and dangerous activities”.
“If nothing is done, offshore drilling in The Bahamas is imminent and these activities will pose serious threats to The Bahamas, its people, economy and way of life,” the organization said.
On January 30, BPC announced in a regulatory filing it was on track to deliver its first exploratory well.
According to the Operations Roadmap to Drilling, work is expected to commence in April, with results to follow later in the second quarter.
The notice states that the well location had been finalized for the “northern segment” of The Bahamas. It is reportedly just 100 miles southwest of Andros.
The company expects to recover 0.77 billion barrels of oil, with an upside of 1.44 billion barrels, solely from northern portion of The Bahamas.
It noted that the total structure for The Bahamas “extends between 70 and 80 kms, has a mapped areal closure over 400 km2 and has an aggregate most likely recoverable resource potential in excess of 2.0 billion barrel”.
BPC CEO Simon Potter said the first oil well, “has the potential to open a world class, new frontier basin offshore Bahamas, less than 200 miles from the world’s largest hydrocarbon market/infrastructure”.
Potter continued: “In our view this makes Perseverance one of the premier prospects that could be drilled globally this year with the potential to not only fundamentally alter the status of BPC in the market, but to also transform the revenue generating capacity of the Bahamian economy.”
However, the company is still awaiting approval for its Environmental Authorization.
“Over the past several months, the Company has also progressed discussions with the Government of The Bahamas and submitted required documents consistent with its application for Environmental Authorisation in accordance with the timetable agreed with the Government and its advisers,” the notice said.
“BPC remains confident of receiving appropriate approval in a timeframe consistent with the Company’s intended drilling campaign.
Oceana also noted that the timing of the drilling is “surprising” given that April marks the 10-year anniversary of the devastating BP Deepwater Horizon disaster.
The historic oil spill which started in April 2010 and released more than 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
In a fact sheet warning against the dangers of offshore drilling and the possible threats to the environment, coastal communities and the economy, the organization urges readers to “make your opposition to this dangerous activity heard and contact [prime] minister Minnis today.
Environment Minister Romauld Ferreira told Eyewitness News recently that while the government is not “enthusiastic” about oil exploration in the country, he could not commit that no other licenses will be granted.
Ferreira maintained the government’s decision to approve the project is largely due to obligation put in place by the previous administration.
However when asked whether the government would grant additional licenses for oil drilling, Ferreira said, “It depends on the circumstances”.