NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Oil exploration opponents said yesterday they are confident in their efforts to stop Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) from commencing oil drilling next month as they raised concerned over the company’s mobilization despite a notice of an impending legal challenge.
The Our Islands, Our Future coalition, which is spearheaded by local activists including the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) and Waterkeeper Bahamas, yesterday raised concern over BPC’s mobilization, noting that the 750-foot Stena IceMAX drillship left the Canary Islands en route to Grand Bahama in preparation to drill an exploratory oil well off the coast of west Andros. This, the group said, is in defiance of an official notification that attorneys are in the process of filing judicial review proceedings, asking the Bahamas Supreme Court to scrutinize BPC’s environmental approvals process. Among the points raised is the absence of a proper public consultation process as mandated by law.
“More than a week before the ship sailed, we advised BPC to cease and desist from mobilizing until the courts have an opportunity to consider the matter, and warned that a decision to move forward regardless will be undertaken at their own risk,” said Rashema Ingraham, executive director of Waterkeeper Bahamas and member of the steering committee for Our Islands, Our Future. Ingraham further raised concern over Stena’s safety record.
BREEF Executive Director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert expressed confidence the effort to stop the drilling will succeed.
“More than 100 businesses and organizations are now supporting Our Islands, Our Future and there are 45,000 signatories to our petition,” she said. “We are convinced that if we continue to stand strong together, we can stop BPC and prevent any future oil drilling in these pristine, ecologically significant waters.”
McKinney-Lambert urged supporters to continue speaking out in The Bahamas and internationally, “and make it clear that we refuse to sacrifice our future and that of generations of Bahamians and others around the world”.
BPC told investors earlier this month that it is on track to spud its exploratory well before the end of the year. The company also indicated that it is targeting recoverable prospective resources of 0.7 billion barrels of oil, with an upside of 1.44 billion barrels.