The Ministry of the Environment confirmed yesterday that the licenses held by Challenger Energy Group, formerly Bahamas Petroleum Company, have expired.
The oil company announced earlier this year that it was still hoping to find commercial quantities of oil in The Bahamas and applied to extend its four southern licenses for an additional three-year “drill or drop” exploration period.
The ministry said the licenses expired on June 30.
When contacted for comment yesterday, Minister of the Environment and Housing Romauld Ferreira said the company’s outstanding fees with the government have to be resolved before it can go any further.
“From our perspective, with the issue of the outstanding fees, that would certainly have to be addressed before anything else can be considered, now that the licenses have expired,” he told Guardian Business.
The government has maintained that the oil explorer has not paid its rental fees since 2017.
Earlier this year, the company said that it was engaged in a “reconciliation process” with the government to resolve a dispute over how much BPC owes the public treasury.
Attorney General Carl Bethel said in January that although BPC had made a payment to the government, the check was sent back because it wasn’t the correct amount owed.
The government maintained that the fees have accumulated to more than $1.9 million as of last year and an additional $1 million fee is owed for this year.
BPC (now Challenger Energy) began drilling for oil in December 2020, but announced in February this year that while it did find hydrocarbons, the amount was not in commercial quantities.