Nothing substantive has come forth from the Government of The Bahamas regarding an update on the proposed Oban Energies oil refinery/storage investment in East Grand Bahama in months.
The latest official statement from the government was issued by the appointed co-chairman of a committee which seeks to persuade Oban officials to back away from some of the conditions in the Heads of Agreement (HOA). The half-baked statement by Dion Foulkes said that the adjusted HOA would be more palatable to the Bahamian people, in particular those of Grand Bahama.
There has been no real update in many weeks and the Oban Energies deal looks very much to have stalled.
The government’s committee, we understand has made some progress of minor proportions. For instance, the paltry total of $100,000 for East Grand community projects annually, by Oban, has been increased to $300,000, we have been told. If this is in fact a revision, that’s still not a meaningful contribution, considering that the investment package has been announced as $5.5 billion.
There is another most important condition of the HOA, on which the committee has made not the least kind of a headway that would appease conservationists and their groups or the residents of East Grand Bahama. If the government, through Foulkes, is able to make a statement proving that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) clause has been successfully re-negotiated, it should say so.
We have been told though, that the EIA is indeed the big holdup.
The government was wrong for taking a degree of responsibility for the EIA. That should have been the full burden for the investor, Oban Energies, alone. Instead, our government agreed to be committed to work with Oban Energies regarding any concerns about the EIA report when it is completed.
That’s a ridiculous situation. In essence, the government has agreed to be part responsible for an EIA that is suitable and demonstrates that the project would be safe. Therein lies the huge conundrum for the Government of The Bahamas.
Therefore, there has been uncomfortable silence on the part of the government.
From the start, the Oban Energies deal has not seemed a good one. Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis trumpeted the proposed project and gave East Grand Bahama residents hope of a major investment.
There is pressure to live up to that promise.
What’s really going on with the Oban Energies deal However?
That’s the $5.5 billion question.