As pointed out in a previous editorial, the government faces a lot of questions regarding the proposed Oban Energies oil refinery/storage facility issue.
Of concern to Grand Bahamians and folks in the wider country, is the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report. Also, representatives of the government and Oban Energies respectively, have been renegotiating the terms of the Heads of Agreement (HOA) document.
Having already signed the HOA, the government is now at the mercy of Oban regarding any adjustments. Legally, we have been advised, the government is not in a demand position at all. For instance, Oban Energies cannot legally be demanded to up the $100,000 initially signed off on for community contributions annually, to $300.000.
Our government we understand, is requesting an adjustment, but is at the mercy of Oban. The same is the case with other HOA conditions agreed to. So, in essence, the government is in a dilemma. This Free National Movement administration headed by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, is hard pressed to bring about some tangible employment elements in order to give the island’s economy a big bounce.
The Oban Energies project will go a long ways towards revitalizing the island. Now though, there is another matter regarding the Oban Energies project that the government must attend to.
Some time ago, the matter of land ownership relating directly to the many acres signed over to Oban, was brought to our attention. Recently, further information was obtained and it is possible that claims of ownership of certain parcels of land, within the acres earmarked for Oban, will be lodged with the government.
Now this might just be a case whereby, many decades ago, there were titles processed for families, and ownership of such parcels of land subsequently passed on to the generations that followed.
However in many instances where land was not developed, or redeveloped to any extent for decades and even centuries, it reverted back to the crown. Our understanding is that in fact, the position the present government holds, is that all of the land in question does belong to the crown.
However, if claims are in fact made, this will be yet another dimension to the Oban Energies proposed project issue the government will be forced to address.
Last week while speaking to FNM supporters at the headquarters in the capital island of New Providence, Prime Minister Dr. Minnis disclosed that there were a number of announcements to be made soon that would be received positively by the nation.
Perhaps greater clarity on the Oban Energies is forthcoming.