The Daily Herald – Darville: NGOs blindsided by oil drilling approval

Joseph Darville

NASSAU, The Bahamas–In a prolonged affidavit in help of a bid by environmental pursuits to cease the Bahamas Petroleum Firm’s (BPC’s) exploratory drilling set to happen ninety miles off Andros this month, Govt Chairman of the Coalition to Shield Clifton Bay, Joseph Darville paints an image of stakeholders being stored at midnight as the federal government quietly granted approvals to BPL.

  A key floor of the authorized motion filed this week by Waterkeeper Bahamas Ltd. and the Coalition to Shield Clifton Bay (Save the Bays) in opposition to the federal government is what they described as an absence of session, however the truth that the teams had been invited to a gathering with Setting Minister Romauld Ferreira in 2018.

  Darville says that three weeks after the BPC utility for environmental authorisation and its environmental impression evaluation (EIA) and environmental administration plan (EMP) had been submitted (which was not identified to environmental teams on the time), numerous environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had been invited to a gathering with Minister Ferreira, which occurred on the minister’s workplaces on Might 17, 2018.

  The aim of the assembly, he says, was to debate the federal government’s place on the way forward for oil drilling within the Bahamas.

  Previous to the assembly, Darville says, the NGOs had been shocked with feedback made in a press assertion by BPC Chief Govt Officer (CEO) Simon Potter, who mentioned, “The submission of an utility for environmental authorisation is a crucial milestone for BPC, as we transfer towards offshore discipline exercise and operations within the Bahamas …”

  Darville states, “On the assembly the minister questioned every individual and organisation about their views with respect to grease drilling within the Bahamas. All of us objected to it and mentioned it was one thing that ought to by no means be accomplished in our waters.

  “The identical query was then put to the minister on my own and others. He mentioned he didn’t have an opinion however that so far as the Cupboard of the Bahamas is anxious, there would ‘by no means’ be a permission given for offshore drilling for oil within the Bahamas.

  “At this, there erupted an enormous explosion of applause and congratulations and all of us went our approach comfy and joyful.”

  Darville says, “There was no communication from the minister at that assembly that they had been on monitor to approve oil drilling, that there have been new proposals or extensions of present proposals being thought-about by authorities, or that we had any motive to be involved.

  “We got here away from the assembly with the very clear impression that there was no instant risk of oil drilling in Bahamian waters and at the least not throughout the Minnis administration.”

  Darville says, “I now know, however I used to be unaware on the time, that on January 31, 2020, BPC introduced a roadmap to drilling the Perseverance #1 nicely in 2020.”

  The drill ship Stena IceMAX is en path to the Bahamas for the controversial drilling.

  The environmental teams need an injunction to cease BPC from continuing and need a judicial evaluate of the federal government’s selections authorising the train.

  Darville says, “On February 28, 2020, BPC introduced that it had obtained all essential environmental approvals to drill an exploratory nicely, together with the environmental authorisation from the minister which it mentioned it obtained on February 27, 2020.

  “This got here as an enormous and unsightly shock to me and my colleagues given the very clear no-drilling assurance we had been given by the minister …”

  The teams allege that the federal government’s selections to permit BPC to proceed had been illegal as a result of the EIA fails in myriad separate methods to adjust to the necessities of the Petroleum (Offshore Environmental Safety and Air pollution Management) Laws 2016 (“the Petroleum Offshore EPP Laws”).

  The candidates additionally submit the choice by the minister in November 2020 to permit the venture to proceed in December 2020 can be a breach of the Conservation and Safety of the Bodily Panorama of the Bahamas Act due to the failure to acquire an excavation allow and due to the failure to acquire website plan approval below the Planning and Subdivision Act.

  “The choices had been irrational as taken with none or any correct regard to the environmental safety ideas set out within the Petroleum Offshore EPP Laws and in mild of the apparent defects within the EIA and EMP,” Darville provides in his affidavit.

  He states that on Might 26, 2020, BPC introduced that it had signed a drill rig contract with Stena’s IceMax for the Perseverance #1 nicely drill within the fourth quarter of 2020 with a “considerably diminished value estimate for its first exploration nicely within the Bahamas.

   “This was a unique drilling contractor to that named within the EIA and EMP, Seadrill Ltd., and its drill ship West Saturn,” Darville continues.

  “The EIA and EMP include pages of detailed specs of West Saturn, its expertise drilling in Brazil, the expertise of its crew and so forth.

  “A big proportion of the EMP and appendices thereto are Seadrill-produced paperwork detailing their procedures, plans and insurance policies.

  “Now we have seen no such info in relation to Stena IceMAX. It isn’t clear whether or not the minister or director of environmental safety and planning have seen an amended EIA or EMP.”

  Darville factors to an October 14, 2020, e-mail from Bahamas Offshore Petroleum Restricted’s (BOP’s) public relations consultant Serena Williams. BOP is a wholly-owned Bahamian subsidiary of BPC and is claimed to be the entity that holds the licences to prospect for oil in practically 4 million acres of Bahamian waters, which incorporates the drill website.

  Within the launch, the corporate says, “The authorised setting impression evaluation is presently being up to date due to the COVID-19 pandemic interruptions to the exploration start-up date which was set for this previous March 2020. Due to the pandemic, BPC needed to set a brand new exploration date and a unique oil rig ship, so these are the modifications submitted to the Division of Environmental Planning and Safety (DEPP).”

  In letters to Minister Ferreira and DEPP Director Rochelle Newbold on November 17, 2020, Waterkeeper Bahamas noticed that this is able to require an amended EIA to be submitted to the director and requested for a replica of the identical and particulars of the session course of in respect thereof.

  Darville says it seems that the November selections approving modifications to the venture could have been taken with out the amended EIA referred to by BPC’s media consultant on October 14, 2020, or a recent environmental evaluation (EA) utility having been submitted and in any occasion with none session on such (as required by legislation).

  “So far we’ve not seen an amended EIA,” he states.

  BPC has vowed by means of its legal professionals to “vigorously oppose any utility for an injunction and go away to use for judicial evaluate whether or not it’s joined as a respondent or an get together.”

  Its authorized group contends that to order the suspension of the venture at such a late stage, after the venture prices have been incurred, would threaten its viability and thereby subvert the general public curiosity. ~ The Nassau Guardian ~

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