Licenses for BPC renewed by govt
The government has renewed the oil exploration licenses of the Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) bringing an end to months of speculation about the company's future.
In a press release issued yesterday, the company confirmed it had been found in compliance with the terms of the signed oil exploration licenses, the provisions of the Petroleum Act and the Petroleum Regulations of The Bahamas.
The company received a letter of notification from Minister of the Environment and Housing Kenred Dorsett on Friday.
The Bahamas Petroleum Company's exploration licenses expired in April of this year at the height of the general election, and the issue of drilling for oil in the country became a hot issue on the campaign trail.
Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham suggested that present Prime Minister Perry Christie had been lobbying for an oil company and noted that he would not support oil drilling in the country.
He further said it would have huge consequences for the country, and the decision to allow it should not be influenced by any financial relationships.
Following a political ad by the FNM, Christie threatened to take legal action for "lies told about himself and oil drilling."
He said there would be no oil drilling under a PLP government unless there is public support for it.
"It will not be a matter of only persuading my government or only persuading the top safety and environmental experts oil drilling will only happen if the people of The Bahamas want it to happen," Christie said.
The Bahamas Petroleum Company said along with having its licenses renewed, the government highlighted several recommendations from the Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology (BEST) Commission regarding completion of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)/ Environmental Management Plan (EMP) process associated with its future drilling obligation, which the company said had already been adopted into future plans.
"In addition, as a result of this notification by the government, BPC confirms that the timing of their obligation to commence its first exploration well is now dependent on the outcome of a government sponsored national referendum on oil exploration. Thus, BPC will not be held to drilling a commitment well by April 2013, as required currently under the terms of its licenses," the press release said.
"It is a positive step which assures the integrity of the license area. It enables the company to schedule exploration drilling to avoid the 2013 hurricane season and also ensures sufficient time to plan and execute the safest well possible without breaching the terms of the second phase of the license agreement," Simon Potter, executive officer of Bahamas Petroleum Company said.
Potter added that the company has a detailed well plan in place based upon a recent Front End Engineering Design (FEED) study, but it would benefit from government input with regards to enhanced environmental regulations, input and co-operation with the BEST Commission and a positive mandate from Bahamians.
© 2012 The Freeport News