November 26, 2020
Bahamas Petroleum Company mobilises its offshore drill plan in defiance of notice of impending judicial challenge
Last night, the 750-foot Stena IceMAX drill ship has left the Canary Islands en-route to Grand Bahama in preparation to drill an extremely dangerous exploratory oil well off the coast of Andros, near the ecologically and economically important areas of West Andros, Cay Sal and the Great Bahama Bank.
The ship has been launched in defiance of an official notification that attorneys are in the process of filing Judicial Review proceedings, asking the Bahamas Supreme Court to scrutinise Bahamas Petroleum Company’s environmental approvals process. Among the points raised is the absence of a proper public consultation process as mandated by law.
“More than a week before the ship sailed, we advised BPC to cease and desist from mobilising until the courts have an opportunity to consider the matter, and warned that a decision to move forward regardless will be undertaken at their own risk,” said Rashema Ingraham, executive director of Waterkeepers Bahamas and member of the steering committee for Our Islands, Our Future, a fast growing grassroots anti-drilling movement.
“We hold that many things about the approvals process was improper, including the decision to switch from an approved ship to the IceMAX without conducting proper consultation. This ship’s owner Stena has a very concerning recent safety record, including a 2015 conviction and fine for an incident that killed two workers in Australia,” she said.
“Stena only narrowly averted another disaster in 2016 when a 20-tonne steel pipe fell from the IceMAX itself and almost struck and probably would have ruptured an underwater oil well near important Canadian fishing grounds.”
BPC’s stated aim is to begin drilling on December 15, 2020, which means that time is of the essence if anti-drill campaigners hope to convince the company and the Bahamas government to pause and allow the judicial process to take its course.
But fellow steering committee member and executive director of the Bahamas Reef Environment Education Foundation (BREEF), Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, is confident the effort will succeed.
“More than 100 businesses and organizations are now supporting Our Islands, Our Future and there are 45,000 signatories to our petition,” she said, “We are convinced that if we continue to stand strong together, we can stop BPC and prevent any future oil drilling in these pristine, ecologically significant waters.”
McKinney-Lambert urged supporters to continue speaking out in The Bahamas and internationally, “and make it clear that we refuse to sacrifice our future and that of generations of Bahamians to come.”
As the IceMAX continues to churn across the Atlantic, it’s movement can be tracked on our website: https://ourislandsourfuture.org/