Silence about Oban project questionable

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis

The Government of The Bahamas has been quite willing to speak at length about capital projects, several related directly to Grand Bahama.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and his colleagues had a lot to say about the proposed Grand Palm Beach project in West Grand Bahama before that fizzled out. The Carnival project has been touted. Grand Lucayan properties and the pending sale to Royal Caribbean, they talk a lot about, and seek to be congratulated for a the mere LOI formality.

Yesterday, they took a well-deserved victory lap for completing the Smith’s Point seawall project. It’s a top-flight product.

Unfortunately, the transparency commitment doesn’t go all the way with this government. For instance, there have been some alarming stretches of silence regarding the proposed Oban Energies’ oil refinery/storage project earmarked for East Grand Bahama.

Meetings were held between Oban representatives and government officials just recently. The government it is understood, presented a large number of proposed changes to the Heads of Agreement document.

Oban has not budged very much, at all, a source has indicated. There is no need to, because Oban has a binding, legal document that we, the Bahamian People, are committed to, through our government. It’s a win-win situation for Oban Energies.  

So, communications from the government relevant to Oban have stalled once again.

The continued habit of silence when the public should be given updates, is highly questionable. The government seems to be hiding the true nature of the issue.

It must be acknowledged that the government cannot force Oban to adjust any of the conditions already laid out in the previously signed HOA. When Minister of Labor and chief negotiator for the government in talks with Oban, Dion Foulkes, speaks about the interest in multiple changes to the HOA, he is not being realistic.

We have been told that Oban has been advised by local and foreign lawyers that the signed HOA is a tight document and the company could in fact resist without penalty, all requests. Oban is probably amenable to some slight changes, but not the major ones that the government wants very much, in order to appease critics. We submit that there is an impasse that will likely end in a settlement in favor of Oban.

But, perhaps the government is better positioned as it relates to the Oban energies issue than we have portrayed.

If so, let’s hear from Mr. Foulkes.

Give the public an update.

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