Nov 18

Bahamas: Oil company urged to stand down With court review looming, concerned Bahamians warn against mobilizing the Stena IceMAX drill ship

November 18, 2020

Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) has been put on notice that their plan to drill an offshore  exploratory well will be hit with legal action if they do not agree to halt all activities pending a  court review of their environmental authorization process. 

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 Judicial Review, is not respected by the company. 

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 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 organisations have joined the Our Islands Our Future coalition and 40,000  concerned individuals have signed the 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 Executive Director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert said  the group believe 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.” 

“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?” 


1 Comment

  1. Name (required)Kara Griffin
    December 2, 2020 at 2:48 pm · Reply

    Hello. I sent your Ocean Ambassadors video to the news organization- OUR NEWS BAHAMAS, and they need a contact to do a story on the youth opposing the drilling. Do you have a name and contact info that I can forward them? Or please contact them.. thank you, Kara

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