Two more members of the Minnis Cabinet yesterday voiced their opposition to oil drilling in Bahamian waters.
Minister of Social Services Frankie Campbell said he does not support oil drilling in Bahamian waters but would support drilling on land.
While speaking to reporters outside the House of Assembly, Campbell said, “I believe that the bill that we are debating now speaks to our commitment to our fishing resources in and throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and so, I’m personally concerned about anything that is likely to or has the possibility to have an adverse effect on that.
“And so, to that end, if I were to support any drilling, it wouldn’t be in our waters, it would be preferably on land where it is likely, if something goes wrong, to cause any catastrophic effect on our fisheries.”
Minister of Foreign Affairs Darren Henfield said he does not support the drilling of an exploratory well in The Bahamas.
“I don’t support any kind of drilling in the waters of The Bahamas,” he said.
“In fact, the debate that we’re having this morning has a nexus to drilling. Can you imagine an accident of some kind in Bahamian waters, which depends largely in part on tourism, upon our marine resources, fishery products and the likes?
“What would happen [if] something like the Deepwater Horizon incident that occurred? It would totally decimate our way of life.”
Parliamentarians debated the Fisheries Bill, 2020, which will repeal the current Fisheries Resources (Jurisdiction and Conservation) Act, 1977, and outlines the broad strokes for a new fishing management and conservation regime in The Bahamas.
Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) is continuing its preparations to drill an exploratory well in Bahamian waters before the end of this month.
After receiving environmental authorization from the Minnis administration back in February, BPC pushed ahead with its controversial plans for the exploratory drilling.
The drillship Stena IceMAX is docked just off of The Berry Islands and is set to begin its drilling for the Perseverance #1 oil well just west of Andros.
However, environmental groups Waterkeeper Bahamas Ltd. and the Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay (Save the Bays) filed an injunction in the Supreme Court last week seeking a judicial review of the government’s decision to authorize the drilling.
While the Supreme Court has not yet heard the matter, drilling is scheduled to start 90 miles west of Andros.
Last week, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis declared that he is “totally against” oil drilling in Bahamian waters.
“Unfortunately, we were saddled with an agreement that we met there,” he said.
“When we discussed it with the legal department, we were advised that the commitment and everything was signed and basically we could not get out of it. But if we could’ve gotten out of it, believe me, I am totally against drilling for oil in our waters.”