Oil Referendum Before BEST Report
By Kendea Smith
The Bahama Journal
Nassau, The Bahamas
Before the Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology (BEST) Commission completes its report on the potential for the Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) to drill oil in The Bahamas, the government will present an oil referendum to Bahamians, according to Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett.
“That is my understanding,” the minister told the Bahama Journal recently. “It is my understanding that the matter is going to be put to referendum when it comes to drilling but they are licensed and there is an existing renewal framework, which still gives me the ability to have discussions with them regarding the terms of renewal and so those discussions are being had.”
He continued, “Clearly BPC is aware of the policy by the Government of The Bahamas is to proceed to the referendum the question of drilling. They understand that and they have been very cooperative.”
BPC has reportedly met all of its licensing requirements for oil exploration.
However, Minister Dorsett said the company still has some loose ends to tie up.
“There are issues that the Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology Commission have raised with them. The advice that I have been given is that some information that has been forthcoming – some of it not all of it,” he said.
“But we remain in dialogue with BPC in relation to its application for renewal and I think that over the next coming months those discussions will probably be more frequent. But they are in contact with the BEST Commission so I will be awaiting further advice from that body.”
Minister Dorsett said there is currently oil drilling legislation on the books.
However, he said the question is if whether or not the regulatory framework in place for oil drilling is sufficient.
“We’ve had numerous discussions with the director of legal affairs in the Attorney General’s Office regarding the regulatory framework that we hope to advance in relation to oil exploration and drilling and hopefully making some significant changes to the regulatory environment, which I think will not only provide better protection but I think enhance the regulatory generating opportunities for the country as a whole in the event it is something that the people of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas decide on,” he said.
BPC officials say the country can make $30 billion a year if it engages in oil drilling.
Prime Minister Perry Christie has said that an oil drilling referendum will be put to the Bahamian people next year.
13 November, 2012