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Oil Opponents To Gov't: 'Come To Your Senses'

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

Oil exploration opponents yesterday voiced hope that the "big deal" of support from around 80 international sources would "make the Government come to its senses before it is too late".

Ramping up its campaign to persuade the Government to halt the Bahamas Petroleum Company's (BPC) plans, the Our Islands, Our Future coalition said it had received backing from "some of the biggest names in global ocean conservation".

The group, which is spearheaded by local activists such as the Bahamas Reef Environment Education Foundation (BREEF) and Waterkeeper Bahamas, touted the names of non-profit organisations such as Oceana, Surfrider Foundation, Waterkeeper Alliance, Earthjustice, the Rainforest Action Network and Friends of the Earth in the latest letter said to have been sent to the Prime Minister.

"This is a big deal," Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, BREEF's executive director, told Tribune Business. "The whole world is watching what The Bahamas does - whether we decide to allow oil drilling in our waters or choose a more sustainable future. These are some of the biggest names in global ocean conservation.

"The Bahamas has been a world leader in marine conservation. The conservation measures that the country has taken over the years, including establishing a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and protecting endangered species, have sustained our tourism and fishing industries. Drilling for oil would jeopardise it all."

Time is running out for environmental activists, both in The Bahamas and abroad, to encourage the Government to reverse course on all the approvals it has provided to BPC. The ship hired by the company to drill its first exploratory well, in waters some 91 miles west of Andros close to the maritime boundary with Cuba, is due to arrive in The Bahamas in around a month's time.

Our Islands, Our Future, in a statement released yesterday, said "businesses and high profile personalities" had also given their backing for a campaign seeking "a permanent ban enacted on all fossil fuel exploration anywhere in the country". It added that 80 groups in 15 countries had signed the latest letter to the Prime Minister.

The group's website, in listing its supporters, did not name any "personalities" among both local and international backers. Those from overseas appeared to be mainly non-profits, although businesses did figure among Our Islands, Our Future's local advocates.

Noting that it had not received a reply to its earlier letters, which cited the 40,000-plus signatures to its petition against oil exploration as well as listing the perceived dangers associated with drilling, Our Islands, Our Future said it had also received backing from Mission Blue.

It added that the group was led by marine biologist, explorer and author, Dr Sylvia Earle, a National Geographic explorer-in-residence was the first female chief scientist of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and named Time Magazine’s first Hero for the Planet in 1998.

"It's clear this issue is giving great concern to organisations all over the world," said Chris Wilke, global advocacy manager of Waterkeeper Alliance, which focuses on protecting rights to clean water. "The world is watching, and in the face of global climate change, the world needs for this precious resource of community resiliency and biodiversity protected for future generations”.

Ms McKinney added of BPC's plans: “This poses a critical threat to our world-renowned oceans, reefs and beaches. BPC cannot be allowed to move forward with their plans, and we need the Bahamas government to understand that the world is watching this situation very closely.

“It is difficult to exaggerate how out of step with the global trend this is. For example, notably fossil fuel-friendly President Trump recently agreed to extend the moratorium on offshore drilling in Florida waters to cover the state’s Atlantic coast, literally right on our doorstep.

"The Prime Minister should perhaps ask himself why BPC is so keen on coming here. Could it be that these start-up oil companies are finding fewer and fewer communities willing to gambling away their future?" she continued.

“We could not be more pleased with, or appreciate, the fantastic level of international support we have been receiving. Hopefully the Government of the Bahamas will take note and come to its senses before its too late.”

Rashema Ingraham, executive director of Waterkeeper Bahamas, added: “Any major disaster would totally devastate our tourism, our commercial fishing, diving and marine recreation industries..... We call on the Government to cancel all existing licenses immediately, disregard any license renewal proposals and place a permanent ban on all offshore oil drilling.”

She also voiced scepticism on previous BPC pledges that it has sufficient insurance to cover the costs associated with any oil spill clean-up and remediation, arguing that The Bahamas would be "left holding a toxic bag of unthinkable consequences".

Roberta Quant, BPC's environmental scientist, had previously told Tribune Business the insurance coverage for its first well will cover any tourism or fisheries losses “in the highly unlikely event” of any spill or environmental impact.

The oil explorer said all necessary insurance covers for Perseverance One had been secured through the broker, Aon UK, with insurers from Lloyd’s of London and other international markets underwriting it.

“This policy provides cover for the costs of halting and remediating any incident during drilling, including the costs of redrill, the costs of drilling a relief well, and the costs of any remedial or clean-up operations,” Ms Quant told this newspaper.

“The insurance policy also provides third-party liability cover losses that might be suffered in the highly unlikely event of such an incident – for example, losses that a fisherman or hotel might suffer - although, as mentioned, this is considered to be an extremely remote and highly unlikely possibility.

“The level of insurance cover obtained is considerably in excess of the minimum levels of cover required by the Government, as well as commensurate with or in excess of cover in place for similar wells being drilled in other locations in the world,” she continued.

“It is also worth noting that the insurance companies – who will be financially exposed to the costs of responding to any incidents – required BPC’s drilling plan, Environmental Impact Assessment, Environmental Authorisation and Environmental Management Plan to be submitted to a third-party technical review.

“This review assessed all BPC plans, policies and procedures to be of global standard, with risks appropriately identified and planned for, such that the project was able to secure insurances as required. Furthermore, all of our main well contractors, being Stena, Halliburton and Schlumberger, again global names and industry leaders, have extensive insurance policies of their own in place.”

Comments

moncurcool 5 months ago

For all these oil opponents who are opposed for drilling for oil in the Bahamas, show me the prof that you ride a bicycle or have an electric vehicle, and also that your home is solarized and you do not use BPL. Otherwise, you are only spewing rhetoric and do not practice what you oppose.

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Dawes 5 months ago

They are not saying don't use oil completely. But as you think we should drill please show me proof that there is enough oil to enrich us should there be a spill and we don't have tourists come nor will our fisheries survive. If there is then thats fine lets do it. If not then do you really think its worth the risk?

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moncurcool 5 months ago

No. They are saying they want to use oil, but just don't come and drill for it in my yard. Drill in someone else yard, but allow me to us it What kind of logic is that?

However, list for me the amount of oil spills that have been critical issues with all the oil platforms.

Have you heard any spills from Trinidad? Country just like us.

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tribanon 5 months ago

Your last two sentences have me thinking you're a total air head. Why don't you just take a moment and type "Oil Pollution in Trinidad" into any search engine and read what pops up.

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Dawes 5 months ago

I didn't say enough oil in Trinidad to enrich us, i said in Bahamas. Please show me the data that shows the oil will be able to keep all those currently employed in the tourist industry employed .

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JokeyJack 5 months ago

That's the other point here. These environmental people can't walk and chew gum at the same time. They seem totally incapable of asking the question of how much money we are supposed to get out of the deal. It's like their tongue would catch on fire it they asked. You can't do a cost/benefit analysis if you don't know the potential costs and the potential benefits. In this case, they refuse to even ask what the benefits may be.

That makes me wonder if they are in cahoots with the government and the oil company - to keep the public's eye off the money (as always), and thus they laugh all the way to the bank. Bahamians stay poor as always. The big companies get the conch salad, and the regular people get the slop.

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B_I_D___ 5 months ago

I know most of them are driving Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf's...and solar to some extent....so what's your point again?

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Honestman 5 months ago

In regard to oil drilling I really hope The Bahamas government doesn't jump in with both feet out of economic desperation. I hope our politicians think of the long game. Eco tourism and oil drilling are incompatible. Let's protect the best that Bahamas has to offer.

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ColumbusPillow 5 months ago

Well said moncurcool. Hypocrisy abounds! The peoples of Trinidad and Guyana are very much enriched by the development of their natural resources Bahamas can ill afford the doubling of electricity costs by switching to renewables (wind and solar) as well as the horrible environmental damage caused by the landfill dumping of dead wind turbines and out-of-service solar panels after only 10 to 12 years of use in our salty air. None of the so called "none profit" organizations are qualified to render acceptable opinions.

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rodentos 5 months ago

the world turns away from oil and Bahamas start drilling LOL that's so backwards

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tribanon 5 months ago

The very greedy James Smith who is putting money in his pockets as BPC's frontman in the Bahamas should be made to drink half of a full 8 oz glass of crude oil each day with Minnis being required to drink the remaining 4 ozs. left in the glass.

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JohnJames 5 months ago

The most worrisome part of this is that the company, a certain Bahamas Petroleum Company, has very little cash. In the event of a problem there may be no company left to sue, no monies from lawsuits. Insurance would pay out to cover clean up but that is all. All of the potential losses of the people of the Bahamas, there could be no company left to take legal action against in the same way BP are paying to the USA for the Deepwater Horizon accident. If they want to stop the drilling these organisations should to go after the source of funds. Companies in Australia are key to lending money later this year and next to Bahamas Petroleum Company to pay for drilling. Those against drilling should perhaps put pressure on Bizzell Capital Partners Pty Ltd and MH Carnegie & Co Pty Ltd to not provide any funds to Bahamas Petroleum Company and therefore stop the drilling.

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Porcupine 5 months ago

moncurcool and Columbus, Both of your arguments lack logic. We are asking for an official change in policy. That is the role of leadership. We can all do our part. But, calling people hypocrites because they don't ride a bike to work is a canard. The abundance of emerging science, and tons of it, all point to the reality that burning fossil fuels is bad for us, our planet, our economy, our political well being. If you can't gather this and be honest about it, get out of thinking people's way. Your thinking is behind the times. Or, maybe you have a personal stake in the drilling, or you are lying due to greed and ignorance. Smart responsible and environmentally conscious people no longer argue for drilling. They can get away with it in the comments pages in a newspaper in an obscure tiny country the size of a small city. But, among scientists and thinkers, your thinking is almost dead now.

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becks 5 months ago

Exxon Valdez Mauritius Deepwater Horizon Ocean Ranger Piper Alpha .....and the list goes on. This one is kind of on point for the Bahamas..June 1979 Mexico's government-owned oil company, Pemex, used a semi-submersible drilling rig to create Ixtoc I, an exploratory oil well 62 miles off the coast of Campeche, Mexico. On June 3, the well experienced a blowout, initially leaking 30,000 barrels of oil into the gulf each day.

Took me less than 5 minutes to find these.

Just Google "oil spill Trinidad" and an impressive list of nasty shows up.

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Bahama7 5 months ago

This well should have been drilled years ago. Half the islands are waiting and secretly hoping we are sitting on big oil reserves.

With the hotels shut, hopefully god can deliver some good luck at long last.

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JohnBrown1834 5 months ago

There are three types of oil spill: small, medium and large. The ship can handle a small spill. Oil Spill Response Ltd is on stand by 24 hours a day. They are one of the best in the industry and will handle any medium or large oil spill. Check out this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aP1Lj...">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aP1Lj...

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