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Oban talks set for today

The government has submitted its proposed amendments to its heads of agreement with Oban Energies for a $5.5 billion oil refinery and storage facility in East Grand Bahama and is expected to meet with the company today, Labour Minister Dion Foulkes said yesterday.

The talks are set to start at 10 a.m. at the Ministry of Labour at Charlotte House in Nassau.

In February 2018, the government signed the agreement, but later committed to reviewing it amid public furor.

Foulkes told The Nassau Guardian, “I can confirm to you that the Oban executives have received the proposed amendments, which we call a term sheet, that details all of the changes that government proposes to begin negotiations.

“We have a meeting scheduled for tomorrow to begin that process.”

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.

In the Senate last June, Foulkes, who was contributing to the budget debate, said the agreement will be more palatable to the Bahamian people and will set out better environmental terms and protections.

He added that some of the “restrictive legal positions” in the current agreement will be revised.

Jasper Ward

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice
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