BPL, Shell negotiations not moving forward as quickly as hoped

More than two months after Shell’s General Manager of Market Development Markus Hector contended that in “weeks” his company and Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) would have completed a deal, BPL Chairman Dr. Donovan Moxey explained to Guardian Business on Sunday that both companies remain locked in negotiations and are not moving forward as quickly as hoped.

Moxey said there are several points both entities are attempting to work through, as BPL and the government focus on “getting the best possible deal for the Bahamian people”.

“We’re moving forward, we’re making progress,” said Moxey.

“From our perspective as BPL, we’re focused on negotiating and getting the best possible deal for the Bahamian people, and so the short answer is yes, we’re making progress; but, are we moving forward as fast as we’d like to move forward? No we’re not. It’s our fiduciary responsibility to make sure we’re getting the best possible deal for the Bahamian people and that’s what we’re working toward.

“Obviously when you have negotiating points that are important to both sides, obviously you’re negotiating and trying to find the best possible way of coming to an agreement. And so, obviously there have been several points like that, and we have certain points that we’re working through now.”

Hector released an opinion piece on Sunday laying out Shell’s plans for The Bahamas and contended that projects like Shell’s will be crucial for this country’s recovery post-COVID-19.

Hector said in his opinion piece: “Direct foreign investment will likely be key to the islands’ economic recovery and this includes infrastructure projects like ours. A world-class LNG power plant will also help provide fuel price stability for the private sector’s long-term planning. Businesses like the important hospitality sector need predictability and not volatility as they compete in the tourism industry. These leaders of economic growth in The Bahamas are dependent on an energy system that reliably provides electricity to keep hotel rooms cool, casinos well-lit and marinas berthing cruise ships.

“If this project is sanctioned, Shell aims to develop and hire Bahamian staff for the power plant and terminal and we’ll work with our local partners to set up appropriate training and recruitment programs. In fact, the government and Shell are discussing provisions around local hiring as part of the heads of agreement, with a target of 80 percent Bahamian staff after construction. The project also aims to purchase goods and services from local suppliers during construction and operations, helping to stimulate the local economy.”

Moxey said there is a possibility the negotiations could be completed in a matter of weeks, but insisted that key points are still being negotiated.

“This is a long term agreement… so when you think about the ramifications of what we commit ourselves to, it’s a long-term commitment,” he said.

“So what you’re trying to do is do the best possible deal when you look at this deal in the long term.”

Shell is expected to introduce liquefied natural gas (LNG) to The Bahamas, in a bid to modernize the country’s power generation system and bring with it cleaner emissions.

Shell will own the LNG company and power production side, while Bahamians will have the opportunity to invest in the developed LNG and power plants. 

BPL will continue to control transmission and will purchase power from Shell.

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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