As Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) gears up to spud its first exploratory oil well in April, Minister of the Environment and Housing Romauld Ferreira confirmed yesterday that all the loose ends regarding environmental safeguards have been tied.
BPC will have a drill rig in Bahamian waters next month, in preparation to drill its first well in its search for oil in The Bahamas.
“It’s just a question of making sure all the contingency plans are in place. You have scenarios that you try to contemplate – worse case scenarios – and make sure all of those have been thought about and the responses are in accordance with best practices and the law. And, obviously, that assurances and insurances have been paid and memberships to crucial networks and responders are there, that kind of fine details,” Ferreira told Guardian Business.
“It’s been a long time coming. I think the thing to stress is that they haven’t found the oil yet. But it’s very exciting because, obviously, if they were to find oil, it would change our country forever. They’re talking about between a billion to two billion barrels, I mean that’s quite a bit of oil.”
BPC has noted that the cost of the well could be between $25 million and $50 million.
Asked if he believes the economic benefit is greater than the environmental risk, Ferreira said, “All developments carry environmental risks, all of them. The question is, have you contemplated those risks and have you provided for them in your environmental procedures and your environmental management plans?
“So, all development carries risk. The only thing that doesn’t carry risk is to leave it in its natural state. And so, they are exploring to see if there is an additional resource that this country has and it would have profound implications on the sovereign wealth fund and on the standard of living. It would be a whole new industry that would be birthed overnight, the oil production industry.
“So, in that sense, it’s very exciting and so, I’m cautiously optimistic in the sense that they haven’t found it yet. Obviously, they think it’s there, all their scientific data and research is indicating that it is there and this is why they are expending the money that they are to look for it.”