NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Pinewood MP Reuben Rahming charged yesterday that the deal related to oil exploration in The Bahamas is “beyond robbery, it’s actually treasonous”.
Rahming challenged “any politician” involved in the Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) offshore oil drilling deal, regardless of their party, to “stand up to show us what is going on”.
During yesterday’s evening sitting of Parliament, he referred to documents indicating the law firm Davis & Co incorporated Bahamas Petroleum Company in 2005 and called on Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis and anyone else involved on either side of the political divide to stand up and explain the “shabby” deal to the Bahamian people.
He also urged the select committee of Parliament charged with investigating all matters relative to the natural resources of The Bahamas to “give us some idea, what is going [on] here”.
“If your pen is on this document on the genesis of it to get it all started up, then all y’all stand up and show us what is going on,” said Rahming, who also acknowledged attorney-client privilege may prevent former attorneys of the company from speaking about their work for the company.
The MP said whether The Bahamas should drill or not, “whatever we get out of our resources, can’t be what we’ve been seeing on paper so far”.
“Because that’s beyond robbery; it’s actually treasonous that we can get to the point to strip us of all of our benefits, because of the way it looks,” the MP said.
“It looks as if because you’re cushy, these people got their breaks.”
Davis and Co was one of two Bahamian firms listed as legal representatives for BPC in 2012.
Davis assumed office in May of that year as part of former Prime Minister Perry Christie’s administration, with whom BPC had begun negotiations in 2005.
Bahamian firms Graham Thompson & Co and Delaney Partners are listed as legal advisors on the company’s website today.
BPC was initially granted the licenses for exploratory oil drilling ahead of the general election in 2007 and has had subsequent renewals under the Christie and Minnis administrations.
During an interview with Eyewitness News last week, Davis was asked to comment on the extent of his relationship with BPC.
Davis said he represented the company for less than a year sometime around 2005/2006 and referred them to another law firm after what he perceived might be a “potential conflict”, before the 2007 General Election.
Davis insisted his earlier representation did not represent a conflict of interest because BPC had been referred to him due to his background in representing oil exploration interests in The Bahamas.
Yesterday, Rahming continued: “I am hearing that there are prominent persons that are directly attached to the leadership of the opposition and also prominent persons who are attached to the [FNM] party, who are still playing significant roles in this.
“…I want to know, did that influence the lousy, shabby, disgusting decision to give such a steal, a giveaway, in concessions to this oil drilling company.”
Rahming added: “Not trying to be controversial; the Bahamian people have been asking this over and repeatedly. I stand here to say also, if there are any FNMs involved, you too need to stand up and give us some idea of what is going on here.”
Rahming said: “I don’t care whether it’s PLP or FNM because I am concerned with Bahamian people with this because I think it’s a shabby deal.”
Before addressing longstanding issues in his constituency, Rahming said he knows politics in The Bahamas is a “very dangerous game”, adding that he knows his family is in danger when he speaks the truth.
MPs on oil deal
The intended operational start date for BPC’s oil exploration is December 15 and BPC has advised it will take about a week for the well to be provisioned, loaded and then transitioned to the drilling location.
Fort Charlotte MP Mark Humes admitted that while he believes the exploration will be a “fruitless exercise”, he still thinks it should be explored.
“I don’t think anybody has shown us that anything is actually there,” Humes told Eyewitness News when asked his thoughts on the matter outside Parliament.
“I think the whole exercise is probably a fruitless exercise at the end of the day.
“I’m sure if there is something there, that those [who] are undertaking this exercise are probably gonna undertake it safely.
“I think if they discover that if there is something there, I think it’s incumbent of the government to ensure that the proper measures are in place.”
Asked his thoughts on the fast-approaching oil drilling, Education Minister Jeffrey Lloyd said he awaits the report from the parliamentary select committee on all the natural resources in the country.
“Whatever is there is for the patrimonial benefit of the Bahamian people,” he said.
Asked whether he supports oil drilling, Lloyd said: “Whatever is there, the scientists will tell us what is proper and appropriate and I will be guided.”
Global environmental NGO Greenpeace International has labeled plans to conduct exploratory oil drilling in The Bahamas as “irresponsible” and “reprehensible” given the current global climate crisis.
A consortium of more than 80 local and international NGOs is expected to file legal action to seek an injunction against BPC’s plan to drill for a test well and a judicial review of the matter.