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28/11/2020
08:20
Bahamas Petroleum Daily Update: Bahamas Petroleum Company Plc is listed in the Oil & Gas Producers sector of the London Stock Exchange with ticker BPC. The last closing price for Bahamas Petroleum was 3.10p.
Bahamas Petroleum Company Plc has a 4 week average price of 2.33p and a 12 week average price of 1.98p.
The 1 year high share price is 5.70p while the 1 year low share price is currently 1.10p.
There are currently 4,054,789,409 shares in issue and the average daily traded volume is 50,404,331 shares. The market capitalisation of Bahamas Petroleum Company Plc is £115,561,498.16.
25/11/2020
07:33
pro_s2009: Latest media news.......1/2 http://www.tribune242.com/news/2020/nov/24/oil-opponents-deny-malice-motivation/ Oil Opponents Deny ‘Malice’ Motivation As of Tuesday, November 24, 2020 #By NEIL HARTNELL #Tribune Business Editor #nhartnell@tribunemedia.net #A prominent QC yesterday blasted suggestions by Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) shareholders that opposition to the company’s oil prospecting was driven by “malice”. #Fred Smith QC, the Callenders & Co attorney and partner, who is representing the Our Islands, Our Future coalition in potentially imminent legal action to halt BPC’s planned exploratory drilling, told Tribune Business that environmental activists are “purely motivated to protect the pristine environment of The Bahamas”. #Describing this as simply good business sense, given that it is The Bahamas’ marine and land environment that brought 7.2m visitors to the country prior to COVID-19, Mr Smith argued that these were the true natural resources representing the country’s “gold that glistens all the way into the galaxy”. #He hit out after several nervous BPC shareholders, concerned about the threat of a Judicial Review action that could be filed as early as next week, contacted Tribune Business to voice misgivings about the motives and intentions driving oil exploration opponents. #One investor, requesting anonymity and describing himself as “just an ordinary shareholder”, urged Bahamians in a letter written to this newspaper not to “let a few thousand persons, some with no connection whatsoever to your beautiful islands, trick you” into blocking BPC’s plans and the potential financial windfall that may result IF commercial quantities of oil are discovered. While acknowledging the need for Bahamians to debate the merits oil exploration, they added that they “cannot help but question a few of the opinions expressed” about BPC’s plans to spud an exploratory well in waters some 90 miles west of Andros near the maritime boundary with Cuba. #Suggesting that political, rather than environmental concerns, may be driving opposition, the shareholder questioned: “How many of the influencers and financial backers of the campaigns to stop exploratory drilling and, eventually, production, are connected to The Bahamas? #“Do they have conflicts of interest? Are they attempting to delay the drill or financially hurt BPC and its shareholder for personal gain? Based on the timing [of the threatened legal action], is there malice involved? And for those vocal objectors who are Bahamian, is it really about the environment or merely a conduit for political protest?” #The shareholder, whose identity is known to this newspaper but has asked for it to be withheld, also questioned the relevance of debating the environmental concerns now given that commercial quantities of oil beneath the Bahamian seabed have yet to be confirmed. #Suggesting that this was a discussion to be held if BPC’s exploratory wells were successful, they echoed the arguments of James Smith, the company’s Bahamian non-executive director, about this nation already being in the oil industry due to the presence of tankers in its shipping lanes and storage farms such as those at Buckeye Bahamas (BORCO) and South Riding Point. #“Why all this fuss by a few who misleadingly try and give the impression of being the many?” the shareholder asked. “Let common sense prevail rather than using it as an excuse for political grievances, stoked by persons who may have conflicts of interest. #“My family and I have been to The Bahamas and witnessed its lovely people. A people with the dire misfortune of having to deal with a terrible hurricane and pandemic. Do not let a few thousand persons, some with no connection whatsoever to your beautiful islands, trick you.” #The Our Islands, Our Future coalition is likely to immediately challenge whether the 40,000-plus people who signed its petition opposing oil drilling, and the multiple companies, individuals and non-profits - both Bahamian and international - backing its efforts represent a “few thousand persons”. #Mr Smith, meanwhile, pushed back hard, describing claims of “conflicts of interest”, and the involvement of “malice” and political motivations, as ludicrous. “The Coalition is not motivated to hurt BPC financially,” he told Tribune Business. “The Coalition is purely motivated to protect the pristine environment of The Bahamas.” #Arguing that even the largest global energy giants were slowly moving away fossil fuels and towards renewable energy, Mr Smith questioned why The Bahamas would take the reverse course. “The Government, under this administration, has committed to a green and blue economy,” he said. #“It thus baffles me how this administration continues to approve the exploration of oil by BPC in light of the international commitments that it has made to the Paris Accord on Climate Change. We are a small island state, and like many of the small Pacific island states and elsewhere, will disappear if the seas continue to rise because of global warming. #“Before we disappear we will fight to the last grain of sand, the sands above the water line in The Bahamas, to preserve the very existence of The Bahamas. Oil is not the future. It is a step backwards. It is pure insanity.” #Mr Smith, adding that Parliament has “spoken very loudly for the protection of the environment” by recently passing the Environmental Planning and Protection Act into law, said: “All we are doing in the Coalition is asking the judiciary to support the legislature in protecting our environment. #“We are urging the judiciary to step in, take control of the executive, and prevent it from over-reaching. Our objective is to stop the destruction of our beautiful, pristine nature. There are no conflicts of interest. We have no malice towards BPC. We have malice towards any activity that destroys our environment. #“This is why the 7.2m people came here in 2019 prior to COVID-19 to enjoy the sun, the sand and the absolutely crystal blue sea we have. That is our gold; the beaches of The Bahamas are the gold that glistens all the way into the galaxy,” the outspoken QC continued. #“The Coalition is composed of domestic and international environmentalists who have decades and decades of commitment to protecting the environment. I don’t know what they’re talking about.... conflict of interest. As to political protest, of course this is a political protest. We are protesting the executive branch of government flying in the face of the legislative branch which is mandated to protect the environment.” #The basis of the Our Islands, Our Future coalition’s legal challenge is that the Government failed to follow the process set out in law for approving BPC’s project amid an absence of consultation with impacted stakeholders. #BPC, though, argues that it has complied with all environmental permitting processes in obtaining the Environmental Authorisation (EAO), and approval for its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Management Plan (EMP). It says it has complied with all Bahamian and international regulatory standards in doing so. #The oil driller’s shareholder, meanwhile, touted the economic benefits to The Bahamas as well as investors if commercial quantities of oil are struck. “It is simply not true to imply foreigners have somehow ‘tricked’ and taken advantage of the Bahamian people,” they argued. #“The Bahamas is not a modern day African or South American colony taken advantage of by European powers, as was the case between the 16th to 19th centuries. BPC has shareholders internationally, some Bahamian, mostly private investors. #“More than $100m of our money has been invested with the hope we can profit. Today, each BPC share is approximately 4 cents. If commercial quantities of oil are found, analysts believe it will skyrocket to over 40 cents. If none is found, the share price will plummet.” #The shareholder added that all Bahamians will benefit if BPC is successful via the per barrel royalties that will be paid to the Government, comparing this to Norway’s multi-billion sovereign wealth fund. #While BPC’s chief executive, Simon Potter, has said the Government could enjoy a $5bn windfall over the project’s 10 to 20-year lifetime if oil is hit, Mr Smith argued that such comparisons were misleading. #“Regrettably, The Bahamas continues to be steeped in a plantation economic mindset where often the executive gets mesmerised by the glitzy baubles that developers present to the Government,” he told Tribune Business. #“Hopefully this administration will see the light of environmental protection and do the decent thing, and cancel BPC’s licences as they are entitled to do. This activity flies in the face of the Environmental Planning and Protection Act, which is the single greatest achievement of this administration. #“The Bahamas, while we have wonderful laws that protect the environment, regrettably the human and financial resources of our government and its agencies are painfully limited. Our inability to regulate development is reflected by the many carcasses of failed projects which have devastated the land and marine environment in The Bahamas,” Mr Smith continued. #“Let this not be one more devastating disaster that befalls our beautiful Bahamas.” #The BPC shareholder, meanwhile, voiced concern about the company’s failure to-date to update the markets on the potential risk of legal action that could halt drilling of the company’s Perseverance One well just days before the December 15 start. #“Hopefully, BPC covered all the bases to face this legal challenge. Most of the shareholders are worried about any delays to the drilling. We are still waiting to hear from BPC to update the shareholders,” they added. #BPC’s share price on London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) also appears to have been impacted by the Our Islands, Our Future move. Having hit close to its six-month high of around 3.5 UK pence around the time of its last Bahamas well update, the share price subsequently dropped to 2.7 pence after the threatened legal action was revealed although it has now recovered to 2.90 pence.
20/11/2020
21:57
alistair4444: The Tribune Friday, November 20, 2020 Save The Bays: Oil Director Smith Seems ‘Shockingly Uninformed’ ENVIRONMENTALISTS criticised Bahamas Petroleum Company director James Smith yesterday, saying he seems “shockingly uninformed” about oil issues. #Mr Smith, a former finance minister and governor of the Central Bank, said it was preposterous that activists are seeking to block the country from discovering if it has natural resources. #In response, Joseph Darville, chairman of Save The Bays, said his arguments are ridiculous. #“There are so many things wrong with the recently published statements by James Smith regarding oil exploration that it is difficult to know where to begin,” he said in a statement yesterday. “I will not say he is being disingenuous or intentionally misleading, but as a director of a company proposing to undertake the extremely dangerous action of drilling into our sea-floor in search of oil, he does seem to be shockingly uninformed. #Mr Smith argued that with tourism collapsing because of the COVID-19 crisis, the country would do well to proceed with exploratory and drilling. He also questioned why activists are targeting BPC’s endeavour and not other oil-related projects in the country. #Mr Darville said in response: “Smith uses the trick of choice for Bahamas Petroleum Company directors nowadays: Why complain about drilling, when there are other oil-related activities taking place in the country? #“While Save The Bays certainly oppose the transportation of petrochemicals through our waters, the argument that since we already face some level of danger, we might as well go ahead and increase it exponentially, is ridiculous on the face of it. #“Furthermore, Smith is drawing a false equivalence, comparing apples and oranges, as the level of danger in what BPC is proposing utterly dwarfs any tanker accident imaginable.” #“The 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster spewed around 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The vast majority of tankers in operation today carry between 15 and 25 million gallons at full capacity. This means that, at minimum, eight to thirteen of these massive vessels would have to suffer a catastrophic accident and spew their entire contents into the sea – all at the same time – in order to replicate the impact of a major spill from an offshore drill site. #“Smith’s suggestion that these tankers present a greater spill risk is misleading in the extreme. It is just downright wrong. The Deepwater Horizon drilling disaster led to a massive stretch of the ocean (15,300 sq. miles) – an area nearly three times the size of the entire The Bahamas (5,358 sq. miles) – being covered by toxic chemical sludge. The worst possible tanker disaster would not even come close. All spills are very bad, but not all spills are equal! #“Perhaps most frightening is Smith’s suggestion that we shouldn’t worry about the drilling project, as it is nothing more than an exploratory well. Can this BPC director really not be aware that the Deepwater Horizon disaster was also ‘just’ an exploratory well? Can he not know that exploratory wells are among the most dangerous of all the petrochemical disasters waiting to happen? #“The truth is that there is no such thing as safe oil drilling and we have too much to lose in this country to bet everything on a roll of the dice. Our economy is totally dependent upon industries derived from the beauty and abundance of our fragile marine environment. #“Nothing about the BPC deal suggests that it will even come close to providing us with an alternative – certainly not with oil prices crashing and the world moving further away from fossil fuels by the day. Certainly not in a country that is among the most vulnerable on the planet to the ravages of climate change, which the oil industry is largely responsible for. #“I would ask James Smith to seek to educate himself more thoroughly on the industry which he has chosen to champion before offering further public remarks on an issue that could ruin countless Bahamian lives. And, I would ask him to speak next time as a Bahamian first, and a shareholder in a foreign for-profit oil company second.” http://www.tribune242.com/news/2020/nov/20/save-bays-oil-director-smith-seems-shockingly-unin/ __________________________________________________________________________________ The Nassau Guardian Friday 20th November 2020 Govt agency insists spot checks, inspections during BPC drilling he Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP) does not have an individual assigned to the physical oversight of Bahamas Petroleum Company’s (BPC) test well works, however, it will be making spot checks and inspections during the drilling process, DEPP Director Rochelle Newbold told Guardian Business, adding that anyone interested in viewing the documents associated with BPC’s project can find them on the DEPP’s website, with additional information at its office. With environmental activists threatening legal action to stop BPC’s drilling process, claiming that the company’s environmental impact assessment process has not been completed, given that it had to make amendments when it changed the ship it intends to use for drilling, Newbold said all information is readily available to anyone. She added that government agencies – especially where the environment is concerned – have made sure the protection of the environment during the drilling for petroleum is as robust as possible. She said while DEPP does not have someone on staff who has the technical know-how to be stationed on the drillship when it arrives, the government has contracted international environmental consultants Black and Veatch to monitor the processes on behalf of the country. “While we will be making spot checks and inspections relative to the work going on at the rig, there will be an individual who is qualified and experienced to understand and know whether or not the operators of the rig are operating within international standards,” said Newbold. “They will be there. We will be coming in and doing checks, but there is no value in us sitting there and we don’t know. That’s why we engage people who do know so that they can provide feedback to the government and take action.” Newbold said the public is invited to ask questions with regard to BPC’s project and can come in to look through the associated documentation themselves. “The documentation for the project isn’t easy to go through because, of course, it is a significant undertaking and we want to make sure every ‘i’ is dotted and every ‘t’ is crossed,” she said. “So there are volumes and volumes of things you’d have to go through in order to get an understanding of what is being presented. What we try to do is put a very concise document that aides the general public in its evaluation. “There are boxes and boxes, maps upon maps. We want to make sure that when we look at that issue from an environmental perspective, it is something that we can say we have done our due diligence.” With regard to opposition to the drilling, Newbold said every Bahamian has the right to take the government to task for its decisions. However, the basis for the opposition has to be knowledgeable and informed. https://thenassauguardian.com/govt-agency-insists-spot-checks-inspections-during-bpc-drilling/
20/11/2020
07:36
pro_s2009: Tourism operators hopeful legal action to halt drilling........said to be fundamental flaws in the approval process ??? http://www.tribune242.com/news/2020/nov/19/tourism-operators-seek-oil-exploration-pull-back/ By NEIL HARTNELL #Tribune Business Editor #nhartnell@tribunemedia.net #Water-based tourism operators yesterday voiced optimism that the threat of legal action will force the Government to "pull back" on oil exploration with some revealing it has already cost them business. #Shawn Leadon, joint proprietor of Andros Island Bonefish Club, and head of Andros Outdoor Adventures, told Tribune Business that a 24-strong group booking from New York that was due to arrive during the first week in November had cancelled on the basis that The Bahamas appeared not to be taking eco-tourism seriously. #Expressing hope that the potential Judicial Review litigation, and injunction bid to halt Bahamas Petroleum Company's (BPC) first exploratory well, will increase "pressure" on the Minnis administration to reverse course, Mr Leadon said: "This is a very sensitive matter, so sensitive that just the perception alone damages my business and other businesses on the island because of the clientele we cater to. #"Having them halt the project, and taking legal action, is the right thing to do. I'm just hoping with all the pressure being put on government that they should pull back. This is exploration for something we don't know that we have. How is it that we burn a hole in what we have already to explore something else. It doesn't make sense to me. It's very damaging to my business. The perception alone is damaging." #Asked if he had suffered any tangible impacts yet, with BPC planning to spud its first exploratory well in waters more than 90 miles west of Andros beginning on December 15, 2020, Mr Leadon replied: "I have had a lot of cancellations due to the thought of that. #"Persons don't want to come into a situation where the environment is not taken care of. I had a big group of 24 that was due to come in during the first week of November, who are looking to lobby against this whole deal. A lot of guys in the group were talking about this not being the destination they want to go to. #"These guys are heavy hitters, and they're very disappointed in that regard. They've been coming here for 30 years and never once have they seen any indication that the Government was not taking this seriously. If the Government allows oil drilling in an eco-sensitive destination, they're not in tune with what an eco-sensitive destination is." #Neal Watson, owner of Neal Watson's Bimini Scuba Centre, voiced fears to Tribune Business that any oil spill would have an impact similar to Hurricane Dorian, where international media made it seem as if the entire Bahamas was impacted rather than just one island. #Backing the legal action threatened by the Our Islands, Our Future group and its allies, he said: "I'm supportive of anybody acting in the best interests of the environment and state of the environment. #"The Bahamas has been catching up on eco-tourism centric places like Costa Rica and Mexico, which have been doing it for some years. I'd hate to see any setback to the progress we have made in that sector from something potentially happening with that [oil drilling." #Mr Watson added that "the risk is high, especially for the eco-tourism sector; it's super, super high". However, he also urged the Government and BPC to be more transparent on the potential benefits from striking commercial oil quantities, and in particular detail how the Bahamian people might benefit and by how much, so a proper risk/reward assessment could be made. #"The way 2020 has been going, I'm just trying to stay in business and trying to keep food in the mouths of the people who work for me," Mr Watson said. "We're just trying to stay in business at this point." #Members of the Our Islands, Our Future group yesterday urged BPC to "cease and desist" from its oil drilling plans until their court action is heard. “To be clear, we intend to stop BPC from drilling in Bahamian waters,” said Rashema Ingraham, executive director of Waterkeeper Bahamas and member of the group's steering committee. #“We are very encouraged by the huge support, both local and international, that we continue to receive. Over 100 businesses and organisations have joined the Our Islands, Our Future coalition and 40,000 concerned individuals have signed the change.org petition. The petition numbers are growing every day. #“At the same time, we are disappointed with the lack of dialogue with the Bahamas government, and are finding it necessary to ask the courts of law to step in and examine the approvals process. The company has been duly put on notice; any further actions to pursue or accelerate its plans will be undertaken at its own risk," she added. #“The coalition had hoped to avoid legal action, which is why we wrote to the Prime Minister about our concerns several times but got no response. Now, as the drill ship is about to sail, we have been left with no choice.” #Fellow steering committee member, BREEF executive director, Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, said the group believe there were certain fundamental flaws in the approvals process, including a deficient Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and a lack of proper consultation at various stages, which means that BPC’s approvals need to be revisited. #“We have asked repeatedly to be consulted on the details of the deal, to see the drilling licences themselves, for access to more information on BPC’s insurance coverage and the environmental sensitivity maps they have supposedly compiled. It seems appealing to the courts is the only way to achieve some transparency," she added. #“For example, we are being asked to take their word that the company has adequate insurance. What does that even mean in this context? The Deepwater Horizon disaster took place while BP was trying to cap the exploratory well and it cost $65bn to clean up. #"We find it highly unlikely that BPC has insurance coverage to that level, and if they do, why won’t they simply come out and provide proof of coverage?”
19/11/2020
21:08
pro_s2009: James Smith #By NEIL HARTNELL #Tribune Business Editor #nhartnell@tribunemedia.net #A Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) director yesterday slammed "preposterous" environmental activists for seeking to block this nation from discovering whether it has natural resources to exploit. #James Smith, one of the oil explorer's non-executive directors, emphasised that he was speaking for himself and not the company when he told Tribune Business that the threat of legal action by the Our Islands, Our Future coalition and its allies "doesn't sit well with me". #He argued that with tourism "collapsing, and the economy tanking" as a result of COVID-19, there was "even more reason" to allow BPC to proceed with its exploratory well drilling and determine whether commercial quantities of oil exist that could benefit the Bahamian people. #Saying that he nevertheless "understood" environmental concerns over BPC's plans, the ex-Central Bank governor and finance minister also questioned why the threatened Judicial Review and injunction bid had singled out the explorer rather than all oil-related activities in The Bahamas. #Pointing out that tankers were moving through Bahamian waters every day, and sometimes offloading their cargos at the Buckeye (former BORCO) and South Riding Point terminals in Grand Bahama, as well as at Bahamas Power & Light's (BPL) facilities, Mr Smith argued that these activities presented a greater risk of a spill than BPC's exploratory, non-production Perseverance One well. #BPC and its chief executive, Simon Potter, did not respond to requests for comment sent via their public relations agency after Our Islands, Our Future and its attorney, Fred Smith QC, unveiled their threatened legal action accompanied by warnings urging both the Government and oil explorer to "stand down" until the merits of their case are decided. #However, Mr Smith said: "It would be preposterous for any group to sue the Government, private or otherwise, for pursuing a policy of trying to determine if we have natural resources and the extent of it. #"The next step, if they [BPC] find something, is they have to go back to the Government and negotiate over how they exploit it. It's a two-step process. The end of this process is whether they find something or not. It's an exploratory well. #"They have to go back to the Government if they find reserves estimated at so and so, and a new round of negotiations begins between the Government and the company for the right to produce. That could take any number of forms. The Government might reduce the acreage and keep some for itself, or take a checker board approach where they take the red and the company the black," he added. #"I understand the environmental concerns. I'm not an expert, but when you have oil wells around the world in the Gulf of Mexico, Persian Gulf, UK, US and Russia, and through Latin America, Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname, and you're saying The Bahamas doesn't have the right to determine whether they have natural resources and commercially viable natural resources? #"To find out, at a time when the main industry is collapsing and the economy is tanking, should be even more reason to find out whether there are other valuable commodities or activities to address the downturn." #Mr Smith echoed the policy of the last Christie administration, which was to allow BPC to explore for oil and determine whether there were sufficient commercial quantities that could be extracted, before taking the issue to a referendum where the Bahamian people would decide whether to allow commercial production. #"Any sovereign government has the right to determine what is there, and if they're talking about going to the courts to say an elected government should be stopped from finding out if they have natural resources that are commercially viable, that doesn't sit well with me," he told Tribune Business. #Apart from publicly saying it will grant no other oil exploration licences, the Minnis administration's position on the issue has been less clear. It has tended to hide behind its predecessor, saying that it is bound to honour the obligations the Christie government committed to. #It is also unclear whether any oil discovery would trigger a fresh round of talks between the Government and BPC that could increase the royalty rates paid to a sovereign wealth fund on the Bahamian people's behalf. #Mr Potter earlier this week said the existing rates were embedded in both the law and BPC's licence, and gave no indication they would be subject to re-negotiation in the event of commercial success. #BPC’s existing commercial terms with the Government involve a ‘sliding scale’ of royalty fees, with the rates tied to production (the daily volume of oil, measured in per barrel terms) that is extracted from Bahamian waters. #The royalty rates range from a low of 12.5 per cent for 75,000 barrels per day to a peak of 25 per cent for 350,000 barrels per day or more, with a production licence granted for 30 years. Using a hypothetical example of oil priced at $80 per barrel, BPC has said once production costs - which typically make up 50 percent of the per barrel price - are deducted, the remainder will be split 50/50 between itself and the Government. #This would see both parties earn roughly $20 per barrel at the $80 price. Under current global oil prices, which are trading around $40 per barrel, the split would seemingly be $10 a piece - if oil is found. #Mr Potter has also indicated that BPC is not deterred by the present relatively low global oil prices given that it will be some years before production starts in the event of a discovery. This means that any decision on oil production, if reserves are below the Bahamian seabed, will fall to the next administration. #Mr Smith, meanwhile, said it was "somewhat curious" that environmental activists were not complaining about what he argued was the greater risk of an oil spill occurring from the multiple tankers passing through Bahamian waters daily. #"The horse is already out of the gate in terms of The Bahamas being a transshipment centre," he added. "If you are really concerned about it, you should spread your wings and go after everything that could result in a potential oil spill rather than selectively going after an exploration company."
19/11/2020
19:08
eggchaser: James Smith#By NEIL HARTNELL#Tribune Business Editor#nhartnell@tribunemedia.net#A Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) director yesterday slammed "preposterous" environmental activists for seeking to block this nation from discovering whether it has natural resources to exploit.#James Smith, one of the oil explorer's non-executive directors, emphasised that he was speaking for himself and not the company when he told Tribune Business that the threat of legal action by the Our Islands, Our Future coalition and its allies "doesn't sit well with me".#He argued that with tourism "collapsing, and the economy tanking" as a result of COVID-19, there was "even more reason" to allow BPC to proceed with its exploratory well drilling and determine whether commercial quantities of oil exist that could benefit the Bahamian people.#Saying that he nevertheless "understood" environmental concerns over BPC's plans, the ex-Central Bank governor and finance minister also questioned why the threatened Judicial Review and injunction bid had singled out the explorer rather than all oil-related activities in The Bahamas.#Pointing out that tankers were moving through Bahamian waters every day, and sometimes offloading their cargos at the Buckeye (former BORCO) and South Riding Point terminals in Grand Bahama, as well as at Bahamas Power & Light's (BPL) facilities, Mr Smith argued that these activities presented a greater risk of a spill than BPC's exploratory, non-production Perseverance One well.#BPC and its chief executive, Simon Potter, did not respond to requests for comment sent via their public relations agency after Our Islands, Our Future and its attorney, Fred Smith QC, unveiled their threatened legal action accompanied by warnings urging both the Government and oil explorer to "stand down" until the merits of their case are decided.#However, Mr Smith said: "It would be preposterous for any group to sue the Government, private or otherwise, for pursuing a policy of trying to determine if we have natural resources and the extent of it.#"The next step, if they [BPC] find something, is they have to go back to the Government and negotiate over how they exploit it. It's a two-step process. The end of this process is whether they find something or not. It's an exploratory well.#"They have to go back to the Government if they find reserves estimated at so and so, and a new round of negotiations begins between the Government and the company for the right to produce. That could take any number of forms. The Government might reduce the acreage and keep some for itself, or take a checker board approach where they take the red and the company the black," he added.#"I understand the environmental concerns. I'm not an expert, but when you have oil wells around the world in the Gulf of Mexico, Persian Gulf, UK, US and Russia, and through Latin America, Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname, and you're saying The Bahamas doesn't have the right to determine whether they have natural resources and commercially viable natural resources?#"To find out, at a time when the main industry is collapsing and the economy is tanking, should be even more reason to find out whether there are other valuable commodities or activities to address the downturn."#Mr Smith echoed the policy of the last Christie administration, which was to allow BPC to explore for oil and determine whether there were sufficient commercial quantities that could be extracted, before taking the issue to a referendum where the Bahamian people would decide whether to allow commercial production.#"Any sovereign government has the right to determine what is there, and if they're talking about going to the courts to say an elected government should be stopped from finding out if they have natural resources that are commercially viable, that doesn't sit well with me," he told Tribune Business.#Apart from publicly saying it will grant no other oil exploration licences, the Minnis administration's position on the issue has been less clear. It has tended to hide behind its predecessor, saying that it is bound to honour the obligations the Christie government committed to.#It is also unclear whether any oil discovery would trigger a fresh round of talks between the Government and BPC that could increase the royalty rates paid to a sovereign wealth fund on the Bahamian people's behalf.#Mr Potter earlier this week said the existing rates were embedded in both the law and BPC's licence, and gave no indication they would be subject to re-negotiation in the event of commercial success.#BPC's existing commercial terms with the Government involve a 'sliding scale' of royalty fees, with the rates tied to production (the daily volume of oil, measured in per barrel terms) that is extracted from Bahamian waters.#The royalty rates range from a low of 12.5 per cent for 75,000 barrels per day to a peak of 25 per cent for 350,000 barrels per day or more, with a production licence granted for 30 years. Using a hypothetical example of oil priced at $80 per barrel, BPC has said once production costs - which typically make up 50 percent of the per barrel price - are deducted, the remainder will be split 50/50 between itself and the Government.#This would see both parties earn roughly $20 per barrel at the $80 price. Under current global oil prices, which are trading around $40 per barrel, the split would seemingly be $10 a piece - if oil is found.#Mr Potter has also indicated that BPC is not deterred by the present relatively low global oil prices given that it will be some years before production starts in the event of a discovery. This means that any decision on oil production, if reserves are below the Bahamian seabed, will fall to the next administration.#Mr Smith, meanwhile, said it was "somewhat curious" that environmental activists were not complaining about what he argued was the greater risk of an oil spill occurring from the multiple tankers passing through Bahamian waters daily.#"The horse is already out of the gate in terms of The Bahamas being a transshipment centre," he added. "If you are really concerned about it, you should spread your wings and go after everything that could result in a potential oil spill rather than selectively going after an exploration company."
19/11/2020
15:21
pro_s2009: Bit more detail in this article : https://ewnews.com/bpc-urged-to-stand-down-warned-of-possible-legal-action BPC urged to stand down, warned of possible legal action. With court review looming, concerned Bahamians warn against mobilizing the Stena IceMAX drill ship NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) was put on notice today that its plan to drill an offshore exploratory well will be hit with legal action if the company does not agree to halt all activities pending a court review of its environmental authorization process. In an update to its investors yesterday, BPC confirmed it is on track to spud its exploratory well within six weeks, with the company indicating that it plans to complete all well activities prior to mid-April 2021. But oil drilling opponents say they will apply for an injunction that bars the company from starting to drill at the same time as they ask the local court to vet the circumstances under which BPC’s licences were granted, a legal process known as a judicial review. In the meantime, they urged BPC to cease and desist from its plan to immediately mobilize the drill ship Stena IceMAX, currently in the Canary Islands but set to head for The Bahamas before the end of the month. According to grassroots coalition Our Islands, Our Future, BPC has now officially been warned that its environmental approvals are being challenged and the company should not insist on launching the IceMAX or taking any other steps towards drilling in defiance of the judicial review process. “To be clear, we intend to stop BPC from drilling in Bahamian waters,” said Rashema Ingraham, executive director of Waterkeeper Bahamas and a member of the coalition steering committee. “We are very encouraged by the huge support, both local and international, that we continue to receive. Over 100 businesses and organizations have joined the Our Islands, Our Future coalition, and 40,000 concerned individuals have signed the change.org petition. The petition numbers are growing every day. “At the same time, we are disappointed with the lack of dialogue with the Bahamas government and are finding it necessary to ask the courts of law to step in and examine the approvals process. The company has been duly put on notice; any further actions to pursue or accelerate its plans will be undertaken at its own risk. “The coalition had hoped to avoid legal action, which is why we wrote to The Bahamas’ Prime Minister about our concerns several times but got no response. Now, as the drill ship is about to sail, we have been left with no choice.” Fellow steering committee member BREEF (Bahamas Reef Environmental Educational Foundation) Executive Director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert said the group believes there were certain fundamental flaws in the approvals process so far, including a deficient environmental impact assessment (EIA) and a lack of proper consultation at various stages, which means that BPC’s approvals need to be revisited. She emphasized that the coalition is only asking BPC to respect the legal process in The Bahamas. “We have asked repeatedly to be consulted on the details of the deal, to see the drilling licenses themselves, for access to more information on BPC’s insurance coverage and the environmental sensitivity maps they have supposedly compiled. It seems appealing to the courts is the only way to achieve some transparency,” said McKinney-Lambert. “For example, we are being asked to take their word that the company has adequate insurance. What does that even mean in this context? The Deepwater Horizon disaster took place while BP was trying to cap the exploratory well and it cost $65 billion to clean up. We find it highly unlikely that BPC has insurance coverage to that level, and if they do, why won’t they simply come out and provide proof of coverage?”
19/11/2020
15:17
pro_s2009: Bit more detail in this article : https://ewnews.com/bpc-urged-to-stand-down-warned-of-possible-legal-action BPC urged to stand down, warned of possible legal action With court review looming, concerned Bahamians warn against mobilizing the Stena IceMAX drill ship NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) was put on notice today that its plan to drill an offshore exploratory well will be hit with legal action if the company does not agree to halt all activities pending a court review of its environmental authorization process. In an update to its investors yesterday, BPC confirmed it is on track to spud its exploratory well within six weeks, with the company indicating that it plans to complete all well activities prior to mid-April 2021. But oil drilling opponents say they will apply for an injunction that bars the company from starting to drill at the same time as they ask the local court to vet the circumstances under which BPC’s licences were granted, a legal process known as a judicial review. In the meantime, they urged BPC to cease and desist from its plan to immediately mobilize the drill ship Stena IceMAX, currently in the Canary Islands but set to head for The Bahamas before the end of the month. According to grassroots coalition Our Islands, Our Future, BPC has now officially been warned that its environmental approvals are being challenged and the company should not insist on launching the IceMAX or taking any other steps towards drilling in defiance of the judicial review process. “To be clear, we intend to stop BPC from drilling in Bahamian waters,” said Rashema Ingraham, executive director of Waterkeeper Bahamas and a member of the coalition steering committee. “We are very encouraged by the huge support, both local and international, that we continue to receive. Over 100 businesses and organizations have joined the Our Islands, Our Future coalition, and 40,000 concerned individuals have signed the change.org petition. The petition numbers are growing every day. “At the same time, we are disappointed with the lack of dialogue with the Bahamas government and are finding it necessary to ask the courts of law to step in and examine the approvals process. The company has been duly put on notice; any further actions to pursue or accelerate its plans will be undertaken at its own risk. “The coalition had hoped to avoid legal action, which is why we wrote to The Bahamas’ Prime Minister about our concerns several times but got no response. Now, as the drill ship is about to sail, we have been left with no choice.” Fellow steering committee member BREEF (Bahamas Reef Environmental Educational Foundation) Executive Director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert said the group believes there were certain fundamental flaws in the approvals process so far, including a deficient environmental impact assessment (EIA) and a lack of proper consultation at various stages, which means that BPC’s approvals need to be revisited. She emphasized that the coalition is only asking BPC to respect the legal process in The Bahamas. “We have asked repeatedly to be consulted on the details of the deal, to see the drilling licenses themselves, for access to more information on BPC’s insurance coverage and the environmental sensitivity maps they have supposedly compiled. It seems appealing to the courts is the only way to achieve some transparency,” said McKinney-Lambert. “For example, we are being asked to take their word that the company has adequate insurance. What does that even mean in this context? The Deepwater Horizon disaster took place while BP was trying to cap the exploratory well and it cost $65 billion to clean up. We find it highly unlikely that BPC has insurance coverage to that level, and if they do, why won’t they simply come out and provide proof of coverage?”
18/11/2020
22:25
alistair4444: THE TRIBUNE Wed 18th November Bahamas Petroleum BPC chief: 'We're looking to get on with job' #* Aiming to settle outstanding licence fees #* Consultants to be posted on drilling vessel #By NEIL HARTNELL #Tribune Business Editor #nhartnell@tribunemedia.net #A Bahamas-based oil explorer yesterday said it will "pay double the royalties that the law provides for" to the Government should it strike success when exploratory drilling starts in less than a month. #Simon Potter, Bahamas Petroleum Company's (BPC) chief executive, speaking before the threatened legal challenge by environmental activists emerged (see other article on Page 1B), told Tribune Business that the company and Bahamian government will enjoy an equal 50/50 share of any proceeds should it discover commercial quantities of oil in this nation's waters. #Asserting that BPC's activities could produce up to a $5bn revenue windfall for the Government over the project's 10-20-year life, depending on the volume of oil found beneath the seabed, he reiterated the "tremendous difference" this could make to an economy afflicted by the ravages of COVID-19. #With BPC yesterday revealing that the Stena IceMAX vessel hired to drill its Perseverance One exploratory well is poised to leave the Canary Islands for The Bahamas by November's end, in preparation for a December 15, 2020, operational start, Mr Potter told this newspaper: "We're looking forward to getting on with the job we've been trying to do for the last ten years. #"The royalty structure is embodied in law and the licence. The law establishes a royalty that we have to pay for the production of oil and gas, and the licence we signed provides more royalties on top of that. #"It doubles the amount of royalties we'd pay under the law. We agreed with the government many years ago to pay more royalties than the law provides for. Depending on the volume of oil it could double the royalties." #BPC’s existing commercial terms with the Government involve a ‘sliding scale’ of royalty fees, with the rates tied to production (the daily volume of oil, measured in per barrel terms) that is extracted from Bahamian waters. #The royalty rates range from a low of 12.5 per cent for 75,000 barrels per day to a peak of 25 per cent for 350,000 barrels per day or more, with a production licence granted for 30 years. #And, using a market price of $80 per barrel of oil, BPC has said that once production costs - equal to around $40 of this sum - are taken out, the remaining $40 would be "split 50/50 between us and the Government". #While the discovery of commercial oil quantities remains an 'if', with much now depending on the results of BPC's exploration activities, Mr Potter again defended royalty rates and terms which have come under fire previously from some observers who believe they provide too little to the Bahamian people. #The BPC chief, who previously told this newspaper that the payments it faces are “30 per cent higher” than those paid by Gulf of Mexico oil drillers, pointed out that the company had taken on all the risk by investing more than $100m to-date just to reach the well-drilling stage without the Government parting with a single cent. #And, given that The Bahamas is effectively 'virgin' oil exploration territory, with no well dug for more than 25 years, Mr Potter said comparisons with the rates paid in established oil producers such as Trinidad & Tobago were not like-for-like. #"There's no financial risk to the Government," Mr Potter reiterated. "We have to bear the contributed capital burden of exploration, appraisal and development. That's the business we're in. We understand the rules of the game, and it's important to establish the rules of the game beforehand. #"That's the contract we signed with the Government. They contracted with us to explore, they contracted with us to drill a well, and in the event of success the Government and ourselves know who is getting what." #BPC, in its statement yesterday, said a successful Perseverance One strike will "substantially de-risk" a structure that extends for between 70 and 80 kilometres below the seabed, "has a mapped areal closure of over 400 square kilometres, and has a 'best estimate' aggregate recoverable resource potential in excess of two billion barrels". #"Perseverance One is a potentially basin-opening well, with the kind of scale and associated value uplift exposure rarely offered outside of oil majors," Mr Potter argued. "At the same time, our activities, in the event of success, have the capacity to be economically transformative for the nation of The Bahamas, and could ultimately contribute billions of dollars in royalty revenues to the national treasury at a time when the dual impact of recent hurricanes and the COVID-19 pandemic has been especially hard-felt by most Bahamians. #"Many other nations in the region such as USA, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname and Guyana have over the past decade safely and responsibly drilled offshore wells, developed or continue to develop offshore hydrocarbon resources, and reaped the economic benefits of an established or a whole new industry. Moreover, these other nations have been able to do so at the same time as seeing growth and development of existing industry sectors, such as tourism." #Mr Potter told Tribune Business that BPC's efforts could produce "$5bn in revenue over the 10-20-year life of the project depending on the volume we find", and added: "This is a resource to the nation, and could make a tremendous difference to the revenue base of the economy and generate significant revenues over the life of the project. #"With the economy struggling it could be a huge help to many and all Bahamians. What a difference it would be if we established this as a resource base for the economy." #Mr Potter added that BPC was still working with the Government to resolve the licence fees payable for its second exploration period. "We're still in discussions, that's the best thing to say there," he said. #"I think it's one thing we'd like to get settled. We've paid licence fees in advance in good faith in the last few years although we've been unable to further activity with the licence. But it's our obligation and we're prepared to stand up." #BPC yesterday said the Perseverance One well, which will be drilled in waters some 90 miles to the west of Andros, close to the maritime boundary with Cuba, is "targeting recoverable prospective resources of 0.7 billion barrels of oil, with an upside of 1.44 billion barrels". #With the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and US Coastguard briefed on the drill ship's operating and safety procedures, the oil explorer added that the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection has now been briefed on the precise well location as well as having issued further unspecified approvals. #To provide further environmental safeguards, BPC said officials from Black & Veatch, the US-based consultants that assisted the Government with assessing the company's applications, will be present on the drill ship to provide a further layer of oversight during the 45-60 day drilling period. #"The well site is located within the Santaren Channel, a deep-water seaway that is already a major oil transhipment thoroughfare through which oil super-tankers pass daily carrying millions of barrels of crude oil to oil facilities in The Bahamas and beyond," BPC said #"The Bahamas is already a significant player in the international oil industry, home to some of the world's largest oil storage facilities. The Perseverance One well site is located more than 90 miles from the nearest inhabited Bahamian islands, and over 40 miles away from the nearest uninhabited Bahamian islands... #"In accordance with the requirements of BPC's licences, BPC has formally notified the Bahamian Department of Environmental Protection & Planning (DEPP) as to the precise well location, as well as the specific details and technical specifications in respect of the Stena IceMAX drill ship, and has obtained the DEPP's consent to same," it added. #"BPC is currently working with the Government of The Bahamas' appointed third-party expert adviser, international environmental consultants Black & Veatch, on a number of technical items relating to the Perseverance One drilling programme. #"As agreed with the Government of The Bahamas, one or more Black & Veatch experts will be stationed onboard the Stena IceMAX during drilling operations, and will oversee the entire drilling programme, with a specific mandate to observe and report on specific tasks, activities and operations, including observing the baseline seafloor survey and testing of drilling fluids to ensure compliance with mandated safety requirements; oversight of environmental compliance activities during drilling activities and thereafter during decommissioning and abandonment activities; and monitoring drilling practices, procedures and activities to assure compliance with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Management Plan (EMP)." http://www.tribune242.com/news/2020/nov/18/oil-explorer-we-will-pay-double-required-royalties/
18/11/2020
22:13
alistair4444: No worries from me, but traders will be all over this including our very own extremely positive on BPC poster Pro, who posts tirelessly when time permits I think next apart from the Rainbow Warrior only 850-ton ship taking on the 60,000 ton Stena Icemax think this would be a no brainer who would come out on top. Like someone else said last time Greenpeace messed with a rig in Spanish waters... https://youtu.be/XHwSQ_6T_64 However, if you care to read the following you will see a threat in 14-days of a legal challenge to BPC Perseverance drill being thrown right out of court! In accordance with Bahamian law and the terms of BPC's licences, as a precursor to drilling operations, BPC was required to prepare and submit a comprehensive Environmental Authorisation to the Government of The Bahamas, inclusive of a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management Plan. This was reviewed for the Government of The Bahamas by independent third-party industry experts, and certified to be in compliance with not only all applicable Bahamian laws and regulations but consistent with all applicable international standards, guidelines, regulations and global best practice. Following that review, BPC's proposed drilling program for Perseverance #1 was approved by the Government of The Bahamas, and Environmental Authorisation was granted. The approvals obtained relate specifically to the drilling of Perseverance #1, such that in the event of success, drilling of any subsequent wells in The Bahamas will be subject to a separate and equally exhaustive approvals process. The drilling program for Perseverance #1 is expected to take between 45-60 days, and will be undertaken on a 'tight-hole' basis - an industry protocol (and one required by the Government of The Bahamas) whereby real-time well information and drilling results will generally be kept confidential until the conclusion of drilling and testing procedures, and until any appropriate notifications to Government representatives have been made. The well has been designed specifically as an exploration well, with the sole objective of establishing the presence of hydrocarbons through a range of tests that will be conducted as the well is drilled. Perseverance #1 has not been designed to ever operate as a production well, such that at the conclusion of the drilling program the well will be permanently sealed and then abandoned. Bridging documentation necessary to the proposed drilling campaign has been agreed between Stena Drilling and BPC. Accordingly, the well plan is complete, and a mobilisation plan has been agreed between all parties and is currently being enacted. · A 'Drill the Well on Paper' exercise is scheduled to take place on 23 November 2020. This is an industry standard pre-operations readiness exercise, and involves active participation from representation of BPC, Stena Drilling, all major contractors, and nominated advisers/observers from the Government of The Bahamas. As previously announced, BPC has placed an extensive suite of insurance policies to cover drilling operations for Perseverance #1, including an appropriate well control policy. This is as required under the terms of BPC's licences in The Bahamas, and is in accordance with global best practice standards. The insurance placement, arranged by leading global insurance agent Aon UK Ltd, followed an extensive independent third-party review of BPC's well plan, design and risk mitigation policies. The insurance placement is with a panel of insurers comprising of Lloyd's of London and International Company markets (with all meeting local Bahamian insurance regulations), all of which have a financial rating of "A" or higher from Standard & Poor's. The policy utilises internationally recognised wordings and complies with BPC's contractual obligations, including cover levels considerably in excess of those stipulated as being required by the Government of The Bahamas. Safety and environmental management systems have been finalised and documented along with bridging documents into Stena Drilling's systems and Safety Case. BPC's incident response systems and procedure will be tested/verified prior to commencement of drilling by OSRL, the Company's contracted response specialists, through the organisation of an extensive desktop exercise simulating an incident requiring an emergency response. This exercise will include participation of BPC management and operating staff, the rig operations team, domestic Bahamian authorities, and multiple invited governmental agencies from across the region. In accordance with the requirements of BPC's licences, BPC has formally notified the Bahamian Department of Environmental Protection & Planning ("DEPP") as to the precise well location, as well as the specific details and technical specifications in respect of the Stena IceMAX drillship, and has obtained the DEPP's consent to same. BPC is currently working with the Government of The Bahamas' appointed third-party expert adviser, international environmental consultants Black & Veatch, on a number of technical items relating to the Perseverance #1 drilling program. As agreed with the Government of The Bahamas, one or more Black & Veatch experts will be stationed onboard the Stena IceMAX during drilling operations and will oversee the entire drilling program, with a specific mandate from the Government of The Bahamas to observe and report on specific tasks, activities and operations, including observing the baseline seafloor survey and testing of drilling fluids to ensure compliance with mandated safety requirements, oversight of environmental compliance activities during drilling activities and thereafter during decommissioning and abandonment activities, and monitoring drilling practices, procedures, and activities, to assure compliance with the program Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Management Plan (EMP). Government BPC has received formal confirmation from the Government of The Bahamas that the Second exploration period of BPC's licences will now extend beyond mid-April 2021, to expire at the end of June 2021, given the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic force majeure. That said, because the proposed drilling program is anticipated to be between 45-60 days, BPC expects to complete all well activities considerably prior to even the previous mid-April 2021 date. no worries from me, all shipshape, after all the losers opposing QC only looking for his very large fat fee.
18/11/2020
21:12
pro_s2009: Mmmmmmmmm............ http://www.tribune242.com/news/2020/nov/18/last-ditch-threat-oil-exploration/ As of Wednesday, November 18, 2020 * Activists to launch BPC legal challenge in 14 days * Will seek injunction unless voluntary halt agreed * Say Gov't failed to follow lawful approval process By NEIL HARTNELL Tribune Business Editor # nhartnell@tribunemedia.net # Environmental activists last night threatened to initiate legal action against the Government and Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) within 14 days unless the latter halts its oil exploration plans. # Fred Smith QC, the Callenders & Co attorney and partner, fired off multiple letters to the Prime Minister, Cabinet ministers and relevant government agencies warning that his clients will seek to obtain a Supreme Court injunction blocking BPC's activities until such time as the merits of their Judicial Review are determined. # Acting on behalf of the Our Islands, Our Future group, as well as Waterkeeper Bahamas and a "coalition" of unnamed "Bahamian citizens, local businesses and local and international environmentalists", Mr Smith argued that the approvals granted to BPC breached assurances given by Dr Hubert Minnis, were contrary to the nation's international obligations, and did not follow legally-mandated processes. # In a letter to BPC's chief executive, Simon Potter, which was sent just hours after it revealed the vessel hired to drill its first well is poised to leave the Canary Islands for The Bahamas before end-November, Mr Smith urged the company to avoid the need for an injunction battle by giving a voluntary "undertaking" not to proceed with the project. # "We... invite you to undertake not to proceed with the project until such time as a full and proper public consultation process has taken place," the Callenders & Co attorney urged Mr Potter. # "We hereby put you on notice that absent a satisfactory response within 14 days to this letter or to our letters sent today to the [government], we are instructed by our client to apply to the court for leave to bring Judicial Review proceedings." # These, Mr Smith said, will focus on challenging the Government's February 2020 decision to approve BPC's Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and subsequently issue its Environmental Authorisation (EA), "without proper consultation or at all". It will also tackle similar issues with what he described as BPC's revised EIA. # "As part of this Judicial Review application we will be seeking an injunction preventing you from embarking on the project pending final determination of the Judicial Review," he told Mr Potter. "To obviate the need to obtain such an injunction, we therefore invite you now to undertake not to proceed with the project until the final determination of any Judicial Review challenge launched by our clients." # The move threatens to throw a last-minute wrench into BPC's plans to spud its first exploratory well, Perseverance One, in Bahamian waters just before Christmas 2020. The oil explorer, in an update issued yesterday, said Stena Drilling, providers of its drill ship, had formally notified it that the vessel will begin operations on December 15. # "BPC anticipates that it will take four to five days from this start date for the rig to be provisioned, loaded and then transitioned to the drilling location for spud of the well," the oil explorer said yesterday. However, that timeline for a project BPC says it has invested more than $100m on over the past 13 years, has now been thrown into doubt at the last minute if Mr Smith and his clients are successful. # Any Supreme Court-enforced delay could prove extremely costly to BPC and its shareholders, including the Bahamian investors who also recently bought into the company via a private placement. # Reaction to the efforts of Our Islands, Our Future and its environmental partners is likely to be mixed given that the issue of oil exploration in Bahamian waters is highly divisive. Some view it as a potential 'game changer' that the Bahamian economy desperately needs, and can ill-afford to ignore, post-COVID-19 especially if commercial quantities of extractable oil lie below the seabed. # Advocates argue that The Bahamas simply cannot pass up the potential of a multi-million dollar windfall following the fiscal and social hardship inflicted by the pandemic, especially since there are few other economic diversification opportunities on the immediate horizon. # The project's opponents, though, have always voiced scepticism about BPC's ability to pull-off the project. Many have also expressed fears for the environment, and the industries that rely upon it - especially tourism and fishing - were any oil-related accidents to occur. They also argue that an oil exploration industry is not compatible with fighting the very climate change now impacting The Bahamas. # Meanwhile Mr Smith, in a separate letter to Romauld Ferreira, minister of the environment and housing, said that "owing to assurances given by the Prime Minister" and himself "our clients had a legitimate expectation that the BPC EIA and EA would not be approved or granted". # Suggesting that the Government's approvals were incompatible with its international environmental obligations and the treaties it has committed to, the QC also queried whether BPC had met the requirement in the Petroleum Act's accompanying regulations that it "satisfy" any issues raised by those affected by its potential activities before submitting an EA application. # "This is of particular interest given that you granted EA to this project without notice to Our Islands, Our Future nine months after you gave unequivocal assurances to representatives of Our Islands, Our Future and other environmental organisations that there would be no oil drilling in The Bahamas," Mr Smith told Mr Ferreira. # "It seems clear to us that neither BPC nor your department engaged in any, or any proper, public consultation in relation to the EIA or the project..... There has been a complete failure to fulfill the public consultation obligation in relation to this project. Doubtless as a result of this failure, the BPC EIA is a woefully inadequate document." # BPC has repeatedly refuted allegations that there has been little to no consultation with Bahamian stakeholder groups, citing meetings it has held with numerous fishing communities and other potentially affected parties in Andros and throughout the Family Islands. # Mr Smith, meanwhile, zeroed in on reports that BPC's EIA is being updated due to the interruptions caused by COVID-19 and the change of drill ship. Noting that the regulations accompanying the Petroleum Act require changes to an EA-approved project to be granted by the minister, meaning Mr Ferreira, he queried whether this had happened. # Arguing that the EIA would have to be resubmitted, and a new EA application made by BPC, Mr Smith suggested its Stena IceMAX drill ship "will not be able to begin drilling" until these documents were approved and a fresh round of public consultation had taken place. # "To this end we request that you suspend the EA and re-open the EIA process to allow proper public consultation to take place," he argued, while also requesting that the Government clarify whether BOC has been issued with a Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) as required by the Petroleum Act. # "If a CEC has not been issued, please provide an assurance that a CEC will not be issued without our clients having an opportunity to make representations in relation to the project in general, and the EIA and Environmental Management Plan in particular," Mr Smith added.
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