Although promises have been made by government representatives, the Oban Energies oil refinery/storage project is looking doubtful.
A source has informed that the Government is ill-placed in the situation and could face a law suit if permission is not granted to Oban Energies for the go-ahead with the project.
It was eight long months ago, in February, when Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced that Oban Energies, a company, (it seems was set up purposely for the project) would soon enter into a heads of agreement (HOA) arrangement with Government of The Bahamas for a $5.5 billion development.
Subsequently, the government erred badly. A HOA document was eventually signed, rather controversially. The described non-executive chairman, one Peter Krieger, reportedly signed the name of Oban Energies President Satpal Dhunna, rather than his own, and ushered in a chaotic period of uncertainty as Bahamians lost faith in the government’s capacity to handle the matter in the best interest of Grand Bahama and the country.
Despite the circumstances, apparently, having signed the document, the government remains locked to the terms. One particular section of the HOA that is sinking the government is the agreement to have some responsibility for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report. PM Dr. Minnis appointed a team to go back to the table to negotiate changes to the HOA but the understanding is that the Oban folks are not budging to any appreciable degree, on any of the terms.
Repeatedly, The Freeport News sought from the government, updates on the proposed projects, with no success. Promises about new information continue to be made with no meaningful follow-ups. Recently, a source informed The Freeport News that local and foreign lawyers, working for Oban, have advised that the HOA signed, is legally rock-solid.
In essence, if Oban holds strong to the originally signed document, and complies with the requirements of the same, the government is obligated to grant official permission for the project. We have been told that Oban has studiously addressed the terms, it is totally responsible for, and has satisfied what was required.
There is the one exception, the HOA.
However, that responsibility is a joint situation with the Government of The Bahamas.
Thus, the prime minister and his colleagues are between a rock and a hard place. The government could only stall for so long. At some point, the fullness of the issue must come out. It is indeed a difficult spot the government is in.
A lawsuit could result.