NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Nearly three years since the government inked a controversial heads of agreement with Oban Energies, a Cabinet committee is reportedly still reviewing the matter.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest confirmed the matter was still under review during a recent interview with Eyewitness News.
The government signed the agreement with Oban in February 2017 for a $5.5 billion oil refinery and storage facility project in East Grand Bahama.
It did so in the absence of an environmental impact assessment (EIA), which was just one of the controversial elements of the deal, heavily lamented by environmentalists.
There was also widespread public outcry over a clause in the agreement that prevented the government from scrapping the deal based on anything in the EIA.
After months of pushback, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis admitted his administration made missteps with the deal in its haste to boost Grand Bahama’s economy.
The government pledged to strike a better deal and had engaged in negotiations with Oban officials early last year.
Asked about the status of those negotiations, Turnquest said: “As you know Cabinet established a committee to look into that, that committee is still looking into the matter and how we might want to go forward, so for me to comment on it may be a bit premature.
“I don’t want to say too much about it, save to say that events certainly given us additional consideration, so I’ll leave it to the committee to speak formally on it.”
Equinor – formally known as Statoil – confirmed that 55,000 barrels of oil spilled at the South Riding Point facility in East Grand Bahama during the passage of Hurricane Dorian.
The company has advised that all free-standing oil and oil liquid has been recovered since the September spill, however recovery efforts to the nearby impacted forest is expected to last for six months.
Environmentalist group Save The Bays (STB) has asserted that the Equinor oil spill should be incentive for the government to reject the Oban project, noting that it would be insane for the Minnis administration to continue “courting another dangerous and reckless facility”.