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Davis warns Shell over BPL deal

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday warned Shell North America about entering into a deal with Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) to purchase stations A and D at the Clifton Pier Power Station, as his party will not support it.

“On the face of it, this makes no economic sense,” Davis said in a statement yesterday.

“Shell North America should be very careful before entering into this transaction. The PLP does not agree and will not agree to a secretive, open-ended and wholesale divestment of Bahamian patrimony once again. This is BTC all over again.

“Under this FNM (Free National Movement) government we have seen Bahamian assets given away at fire sale prices: BTC, the Arawak Port, the Prince George dock.

In the end it is the Bahamian tax payer who suffers and bears the brunt of the costs.”

Davis urged the government to “come clean” on what it plans to do with BPL.

“Given the statements by the chairman of the company, it appears that, without the leave of the Bahamian people, through Parliament the FNM has unilaterally decided that they are going to give the power generation portion of the company to a foreign entity. They never campaigned on this policy and were never given a public mandate to do so. There must be some public explanation for this.

“Further and substantively, the real question and issue at hand is rooted in the lack of a coherent plan or vision for BPL.

“The plans left in place were scrapped and purportedly replaced with nothing more than a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Shell North America to construct a 200-megawatt power generation station at their cost in exchange for a power purchasing agreement.

“The public then witnessed the implosion of the board with accusations of political interference and corruption stemming no doubt from the government’s decision to enter into another arrangement that conflicted with the Shell MOU. In this competing agreement, Wartsilla constructed 100 megawatts power generating stations at our cost without any explanation as what was to become of the Shell deal.”

In November 2018, the current board entered BPL into an MOU with Shell Gas and Power Development B.V.

The MOU established Shell as the project developer for the power project, which will include the development of marine infrastructure to receive liquefied natural gas; a gas pipeline to bring gas to shore; onshore LNG regasification terminal and a new gas-fire 220-plus megawatt power plant.

At the time, it was said that Shell, which would become an independent power producer (IPP), would cover the cost of constructing the plant, which was reportedly expected to be upwards of $100 million. BPL would in turn pay Shell to supply electricity.

BPL has spent $95 million constructing station A, and plans to spend another $70 million to construct station D.

Davis, a former minister of public works who would have had oversight of the nation’s power company, said: “The ever-changing positions of this government on BPL has deepened the mistrust, heightened the uncertainty and worsened the loss of public confidence in BPL.

“The company is already owned by the Bahamian public. We are now being asked to swallow the fact that the Bahamian public will bear the cost of building two new power generation plants. The FNM government will then sell the two new plants to a foreign company, namely Shell North America. 

“Then BPL, already owned by the Bahamian people, will buy power from that foreign company at a price yet to be determined. The Bahamian people are then told that they will be able to buy shares in the foreign company once the details are settled.”

Davis called for Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister to comment on the matter, stating, “We must have these facts confirmed by the minister. It is not good enough for the chairman of BPL to be setting such ground breaking policy pronouncements on this public corporation without a representative of the people telling us what they plan to do with BPL.”

He added, “The government must come clean and do so without delay.”

 

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