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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham ...says that there would be no oil drilling in Bahamian waters if his party - the Free National Movement (FNM) is re-elected to office

PM: FNM govt won’t drill for oil

By Taneka Thompson
Guardian Senior Reporter

Nassau, The Bahamas

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said yesterday there would be no oil drilling in Bahamian waters if his party is re-elected to office.

Asked if his administration would allow drilling if returned to power, he said ‘no’.

Ingraham added that Bahamas Petroleum Company Plc. (BPC) — the company licensed to explore for oil in Bahamian waters — has direct ties to Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Perry Christie and other senior members of the party.

In 2005, BPC began its negotiations with the Christie administration for its various permits and licenses to look for oil in the country’s territorial waters.

Since then the company has only done 2-D and 3-D underwater seismic testing to figure out the best areas to drill for oil and get a better handle on the country’s oil potential.

However, in 2010 the Ingraham administration placed a moratorium on new oil exploration or drilling licenses. The moratorium came after the disastrous Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“We are undertaking studies and after that we will see, but we don’t have any plans to drill for oil in The Bahamas,” Ingraham said.

He was responding to questions put to him by The Nassau Guardian after he completed a tour of Bains Town and Grants Town yesterday.

“They (BPC) are very much tied to Perry Christie and those,” Ingraham said.

“In fact, I think he may be a consultant for them. He is certainly involved with them.”

Ingraham also suggested that attorney Sean McWeeney, a former PLP attorney general, is also tied to BPC.

On its website, under company advisors, BPC lists the law firm Davis & Co., run by PLP Deputy Leader Philip Brave Davis, as part of its Bahamian legal team.

McWeeney’s law firm Graham Thompson & Co. is listed as the second firm representing BPC in The Bahamas. McWeeney is a partner in the firm.

A press release posted on BPC’s website and published in Offshore magazine, said the company “now looks forward to the outcome of the Bahamian elections.

“Whatever the result, it anticipates a refreshed mandate to support exploration,” the press release said.

Ingraham said yesterday The Bahamas’ waters are too pristine and important for the country’s tourism product to risk drilling for oil.

“We’ve seen what happened in Louisiana with oil drilling,” Ingraham said, referring to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

BPC’s CEO Simon Potter recently told Guardian Business that drilling an oil well by April 26, 2013 was an important benchmark for the company. However, BPC’s current oil drilling license is set to expire this month.

Potter said he was confident that the company would receive an extension from the government; the renewal is subject to the company meeting certain obligations, terms and conditions.

Last September, the company began compiling its 3-D seismic data.

There is reportedly a 25 to 33 percent chance of oil being found under The Bahamas’ territorial ocean floor.

The company has also submitted its environmental impact assessment to the Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology Commission (BEST).

Apr 19, 2012