Nearly three weeks following discussions regarding an amended Heads of Agreement (HOA) between Oban Energies and the Government of The Bahamas for the proposed $5.5 billion project in East Grand Bahama, very little has been released to the public regarding what transpired in the talks.
This daily made attempts to speak to Hon. Dion Foulkes, Minister of Labour, who has responsibility of the co-chair of a special committee formed to negotiate with Oban Energies, on behalf of the Bahamas Government; as well as Minister of State within the Grand Bahama Office of The Prime Minister Sen. J. Kwasi Thompson, but was not successful.
Following a meeting on March 19, with Foulkes and other government representatives regarding the project, met with Oban President, Alexander Grikitis and other officials of the company.
Grikitis expressed the following: “We are just going over some meetings and we’re in negotiations on some things they’ve requested to change but I can’t really make too many statements at this point, but tomorrow we’ll be more open to talks.”
Informing the media that he wished not to go into details with respect to what was discussed Grikitis did however note that the meeting went well.
Foulkes also noted following the extensive two days of meetings with Oban principals, that he was awaiting a full report from the negotiating team, headed by attorney Lauren Klein.
Minister Foulkes, too, alluded at the time, that significant progress was made during the latest negotiating process, regarding the proposed changes to the Heads of Agreement for the proposed oil refinery and storage facility.
In June of 2018, Foulkes had shared in the Upper House that the Sub Committee was established to review three poignant areas of the development’s Heads of Agreement (HOA), with respect to the Oban Energies Project. At the time, he said:
“I also want to make a brief report on the Oban situation. I am the Co-chair of a Cabinet Sub-committee dealing with the Oban matter. We have assembled, since the Prime Minister (Dr. Hon. Hubert Minnis) made his interventions several months ago, in the House of Assembly, where he admitted some mistakes were made, with respect to the Heads of Agreement (HOA).
“He (Minnis) has charged our committee which comprises of seven Cabinet Ministers including myself, and a very esteemed attorney from the Attorney General’s office and, we have been meeting, on a continuous basis, over the last three or four months. We have made many trips to Grand Bahama, and met with many persons in Grand Bahama, including professionals who are in the industry, former, retired persons from Statoil and from BORCO (now Buckeye). We are relying very heavily on the advice of Bahamian professionals and we are listening to the residents of Grand Bahama, with respect to this matter.
“We are charged, as a Committee, to review the HOA, with the final objective being:
“1. To improve the environmental terms in the Agreement, to ensure better environmental protection, to East Grand Bahama, and to Grand Bahama, in general.
“2. To improve the economic terms and the conditions; that they will be more beneficial to the Bahamian people, but, particularly to Brand Bahamians and Bahamians living in East Grand Bahama.
:3. To revise, some of what we consider, some restrictive legal provisions, in the HOA.
“The principals of Oban and the executives of Oban are on board with this process and I can report to Madam President and Senators, that in a few weeks, we will have an amended HOA for Oban, that we believe, will be acceptable to the Bahamian people at large, but, more importantly acceptable to Grand Bahamians and persons living in Grand Bahama, particularly those living in East Grand Bahama,” said Foulkes.
On March 20, 2018 while offering his communication on the mid year budget debate, Prime Minister Dr. Hon. Hubert Minnis stated in the afternoon session of the House of Assembly (HOA) that is was his intention to address the successes of his government and their vision for the country.
“I will acknowledge where we have made errors, and made missteps which need to be corrected. We will be honest with the Bahamian people, about where we failed and what we will do, to improve governance.”
He continued during his address as follows: “The Oban Energies, LLC project was intended to bring growth and jobs to Grand Bahama. In our haste to boost the economy of Grand Bahama, we made a number of missteps in the Oban Energies project. While our heart was in the right place, these missteps should not have happened. We must, we can and we will do better,” said Prime Minister Minnis.
He further admitted that due diligence and a more comprehensive assessment of the project should have been performed under his government’s watch.
Fast forward to the present and the government has been unsuccessful in hammering out a palatable HOA.
There have been lengthy periods of silence by the government on the high profile matter.