STB chairman: Stop, review, and cancel oil drilling approvals

STB chairman: Stop, review, and cancel oil drilling approvals
Save The Bays (STB) Chairman Joe Darville.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Save The Bays (STB) Chairman Joe Darville renewed his condemnation of the Minnis administration for its decision to approve exploratory oil drilling in the country.

Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) advised last month that it received formal notification from the government to proceed with plans to drill exploratory oil wells before the end of 2020.

But Darville lambasted the decision, insisting that it is in complete contradiction to the government’s previous promises.

He recalled a meeting held last year with Environment Minister Romauld Ferreira and “every single major environmental organization in the country”.

He said at that meeting the minister questioned each activist and organization about their views with respect to oil drilling in The Bahamas.

“We all objected to it and said it was something that should never be done in our waters,” he said.

Darville noted that the question was then put to the minister.

“He said I don’t have an opinion but as far as the Cabinet of The Bahamas is concerned, there will never be a permission given for offshore drilling for oil in The Bahamas,” he continued.

“And so there was a big explosion of applause and congratulations and we all went our way comfortable and joyful.”

However, according to Darville, within a matter of months, representatives from BPC had begun putting out information with respect to how they were preparing to carry out the drilling and the funds that were being raised.

“But yet, nothing was ever coming out and still at this point, nothing was coming out from the mouth of my government, my FNM government; that I voted for,” he said.

“…I cannot believe that such a thing would be given the go ahead, particularly in light of the catastrophic hurricane that we had and in connection of a catastrophic oil spill…It is beyond belief. It is a bunch of asininities…It’s a total contradiction.

“I cry shame upon my government that they will allow that.”

BPC was initially granted the license for exploratory oil drilling in 2007 and subsequently got two renewals under the Christie administration.

Attorney General Carl Bethel and Environment Minister Romauld Ferreira has continuously said the government was legally obligated to extend that license.

But Darville said that excuse is not good enough.

“They may say that they are trying to honor the licenses that were given but let me say this, my government, the FNM government, the present one, they are famous according to the PLP for stopping something and reviewing it and canceling it,” he said.

“So why could they not cancel any sort of license that had been given by the previous administration, by the PLP, to drill for oil in our waters, when they know now that one simple incident can destroy what we tout ourselves for across the planet and all the way in outer space…that we would subject that to a catastrophic thing like an oil spill in our ocean.”

In a recent interview with Eyewitness News, Ferreira said while the government is not “enthusiastic” about oil exploration in the country, he could not commit to the idea that no other licenses will be granted.

Asked whether the government would grant additional licenses for oil drilling, Ferreira said: “It depends on the circumstances”.