PM: No update on Oban blunder

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

Minnis reassures that environment will not be “adversely affected”

Another blunder by executives at Oban Energies has landed the embattled company in local headlines again.

The company failed to complete the much-anticipated environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the proposed $5.5 billion oil refinery and storage facility proposed for East Grand Bahama.

The company said it would complete the EIA report within 45 days after signing the ceremonial heads of agreement (HOA) with the Minnis administration back on February 19.

Now that the deadline has passed, Oban executives maintain that the 45-day target applied to the first of a three-phase impact assessment.

The first phase of the EIA report would focus on the storage facility’s impact.

The second phase would zero in on the refinery’s impact, while the third – and final EIA report – will assess the off-shore impact.

According to Oban executives, the government has permitted them to hand in a comprehensive report which will encompass all three phases.

Questions surfaced Monday as to why the company, and the government, did not clearly specify the details and requirements surrounding the phased approach to the EIA report ahead of the proposed deadline.

The concerns were presented to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis Monday afternoon.

“I don’t have any update,” he said frankly.

“There’s a particular committee dealing with that entire matter. I have no update for you.”

While the prime minister was unable to provide a specific update on the expired EIA deadline, he adamantly noted that the government will not allow the environment to be adversely affected.

“At present there are particular committees involving environmental groups and they are all looking at it. There are certain requirements that have to be met… I’ve said it before and I will say it again – our environment will not be compromised. Our environment will always be protected,” said the prime minister.

The Oban saga has been a hot topic in public and government debate since the controversial HOA signing over two months ago.

The signing eventually led to a shake-up at Oban Energies which saw the dismissal of the company’s non-executive chairman Peter Krieger.

In tow was a national apology from the prime minister for a number of ‘missteps,’ that his administration took while pursing the billion-dollar project for Grand Bahama.

Many are still concerned about how the proposed project will affect the island’s environment.

Grand Bahamians, as well as environmentalists, have been quite vocal about environmental concerns. But, to date, the government nor Oban Energies has stepped forward to provide hard evidence to quell these concerns.