The outcome of the government’s renegotiations with Oban Energies will determine whether it kills the deal for a $5.5 billion oil refinery and storage facility in East Grand Bahama, Labour Minister Dion Foulkes said yesterday.
In February 2018, the government signed the agreement, but later committed to reviewing it amid public furor.
When asked whether the government still intends to move forward with the deal, Foulkes, who heads a Cabinet subcommittee tasked with examining it, said, “It is all subject to our talks.”
He added: “We are planning a negotiation with their negotiation team to seek amendments, as I said previously, to the heads of agreement. We’ve not settled on a date for that meeting yet. We’re hoping to have that meeting soon.”
The government was expected to submit its proposed amendments to Oban on February 7, according to Foulkes.
However, on February 19, the minister said a “glitch with our computer” prevented the submission of the amendments.
The government’s agreement with Oban was signed without an environmental impact assessment (EIA) in place which has garnered a lot of public criticism.
Several environmentalists and others have chastised the government over the deal. The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) said there was no scenario where it would support the deal, noting the overall risk is too great, particularly to the neighboring national parks.
Following weeks of being lambasted and a firestorm of headlines on the matter, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis admitted that the government made a series of missteps regarding the deal, in its haste to boost the economy of Grand Bahama, and as a result ordered a subcommittee and technical advisory group to examine the deal in hopes of renegotiating.
Last month, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Peter Turnquest said the government was trying to determine whether the deal is “something that we want to proceed with in terms of the kind of installation versus maybe considering the touristic elements that are now developing the island”.
“So, again, this is going through a look from both sides to determine what is best for the island, what is best for Oban and for us,” Turnquest said.
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