Categorized | National News

Oil Drilling Regulations Needed

Before the government can move ahead with a referendum on oil exploration, there needs to be regulations in place to safeguard Bahamians and the environment.

Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis told the Bahama Journal yesterday that he could not say whether he would support a referendum on the issue.

“Our party has always felt that you cannot drill for oil without the proper regulations in place,” he said.

“We must understand that it’s a lucrative business. The oil company’s business is trying to make money. Our role as the government is to protect the people. If the proper regulations aren’t in place can you imagine what would happen if there is an oil spill?”

During its campaign, the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) said it would not engage in discussions on oil exploration without a referendum.

“Eighty per cent of our employment is related to tourism whether directly or indirectly,” Dr. Minnis said.

“If we have any spillage no one would come to our straw market, the ships would not come to our harbour, the hotels will be closed and the airport would be a disaster. It sounds like it would be a lot of money initially but I think in the long term it would cause major disaster if something was to happen.”

The Opposition leader added that during the Ingraham administration, the government was more concerned about Bahamians and the environment when it came to the issue of oil exploration.

“My government insisted that regulations were put in place first when this issue first came about,” Dr. Minnis said.

“We were not going to sign any agreement with any company for drilling without the consent of the Bahamian people and without protecting the environment. I would not agree to anything without the regulations in place and that is first and foremost.”

Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) has expressed an interest in drilling for oil in Bahamian waters.

The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) recently backed permitting oil exploration in the country once regulatory safeguards were in place.
Projecting that revenues worth a conservative $1 billion per year could be generated if the Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) and its joint venture partners were to discover oil deposits that could be extracted, BCCEC Chairman Chester Cooper said the sector had the potential to “transform the economy” – both directly and through spin-off commercial activities.
Calling for a “non-partisan” debate on oil exploration in The Bahamas, the BCCEC chairman acknowledged that a comprehensive environmental, health and safety regime was required to protect this nation’s environment and tourism industry.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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