“IT’S NOT OVER”: Environmentalist group renews concern over BPC oil drilling; claims drillship still nearby

“IT’S NOT OVER”: Environmentalist group renews concern over BPC oil drilling; claims drillship still nearby
The Stena IceMAX drillship. (PHOTO: BPC VIDEO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Environmentalist group Our Islands, Our Future yesterday renewed concern over oil drilling activities in The Bahamas as it suggested Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC)’s drillship is still “lurking” in Bahamian waters after its initial well activity has ceased.

Following the controversial drilling of exploratory oil well Perseverance #1, BPC’s efforts ended in disappointment last month when no commercial volumes of oil were found.

The Perseverance #1 well site 90 miles from Andros and approximately 270 miles from Nassau.

Local and international environmentalist groups, who opposed the exercise and even took the matter to court, expressed “relief” at the results at the time.

However, in yesterday’s statement, Our Islands, Our Future said: “We all breathed a collective sigh of relief when BPC announced that they did not find commercial quantities of oil in The Bahamas. Many of us expected them to pack up and leave the country.

“Unfortunately, almost immediately after their announcement, they put out an announcement to their shareholders to say that they would be looking to continue to monetize their holdings in The Bahamas.

“Although the Stena IceMAX has left the Perseverance #1 drilling location and is no longer under hire, according to BPC public reports, they are lurking in The Bahamas between New Providence and Grand Bahama.”

The group referenced a website vesselfinder.com allegedly locating the Stena IceMAX in Bahamian waters as late as March 9.

The statement continued: “Their continued presence implies that the drilling operations in The Bahamas are not over.

“At the very least, it raises significant questions: Why are they still in the Bahamas and what is the purpose of their presence? As an industrial ship, are they still legally here along with all of their staff under Bahamian legal frameworks for labor and industry?”

A March 11, 2021 screenshot from the Vessel Finder website supposedly locating the Stena IceMAX drillship in waters between Grand Bahama and Florida.

When Eyewitness News visited the Vessel Finder website yesterday, the Stena IceMAX appeared to be located in waters between Grand Bahama and Florida, USA.

Our Islands, Our Future also referenced a February 16 BPC statement which noted it was conducting a post-drilling evaluation that would “allow the company to fully integrate the new Perseverance well data into an updated interpretation of the previously mapped prospect and lead inventory accessible within the licences, and more accurately inform and direct the focus of the company’s forward strategy within its Bahamian exploration acreage portfolio”.

The environmentalist group’s statement continued: “Does this mean that BPC is preparing to punch another hole in the seabed, even closer to our sensitive marine habitats?

“Will the government of The Bahamas involve local conservation and marine resource agents to be present during the discussions of the previous drilling results and any future activities?

“Will our government finally ban oil exploration in The Bahamas?”

The group called for renewed support of its online petition, “Stop Oil Drilling in The Bahamas”, which up to yesterday had garnered nearly 95,000 signatures out of a goal of 150,000.

BPC, for its part, in the same February 16 statement referenced by Our Island, Our Future, stated: “The Stena IceMAX has just left the drilling location and is off-hire. However, the pace of operations has not ceased — the post-well review has begun, as the company charts its way forward in The Bahamas with a renewal of the farm-out process.”