Cabinet still working on Oban review
The government remains in good faith talks with the principals of Oban Energies as it continues to review the heads of agreement for the $5.5 billion oil refinery and storage facility in East Grand Bahama, said Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes yesterday.
The subcommittee tasked with examining the deal is still awaiting a technical report from its technical advisory committee, said Foulkes, who chairs that subcommittee. That report will contain an examination of the economic benefits, environmental protections and legal framework of the heads of agreement the government signed with Oban Energies earlier this year. It was expected to be completed by the first week in August.
Speaking to reporters outside Cabinet on the matter, Foulkes said, “It’s taking a little longer than I had anticipated. I have received a draft. It’s a fairly comprehensive document, but I’ve still not received a final document.”
Asked whether there is anything alarming in that draft, Foulkes said, “I prefer to have an opportunity to present it to Cabinet, for my colleagues to take a look at first and get Cabinet direction as to how to proceed.”
The government signed the agreement with Oban Energies on February 10. However, the public was not notified at the time.
The Minnis administration held a signing on February 19 with then Oban Energies Non-Executive Chairman Peter Krieger, in what was later called a ceremonial signing.
The government signed the agreement without an environmental impact assessment in place – a major point of contention for environmentalists and others.
In March, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis admitted that his government made a series of missteps regarding its deal with Oban Energies in its haste to boost the economy of Grand Bahama.
Foulkes yesterday sought to dispel rumors that the government is considering walking away from the project.
“We are in talks in good faith with the principals of Oban, and we intend to remain in talks with them,” he said.
“If we can amend the heads of agreement to the satisfaction of the government, then that would be the best outcome.”
He added that Oban Energies also remains committed to the project.
“They have agreed to enter talks pursuant to the terms of the agreement which makes provisions for amendments to the heads of agreement,” Foulkes said.
The government hopes to increase the economic benefits for Bahamians and environmental protections in the amended deal.