Alexander Grikitis has resigned his position as president of Oban Energies, he confirmed to The Nassau Guardian last night.
Grikitis was appointed president after the controversial signing in February 2018 for a $4 billion oil refinery and $1.5 billion liquid bulk facility for east Grand Bahama.
He had played a critical role in trying to get the government of The Bahamas to agree to a new heads of agreement to move the stalled project forward.
Grikitis, who has an art history background, told The Nassau Guardian the project might have more hope of succeeding with a president who has an oil and gas background.
“I really think it needs a change at this time,” he said, adding that the decision to resign was his idea.
“I think someone needs to take it to the next level. This project needs to move. For the Bahamian people, for the project and for the government, for the shareholders, I made the decision that I think is best for the project, as well as for myself. My life has taken me in some different directions as well.
“I just think it is just good to move on at this point and kind of unstuck the project in a sense. I think that we’ve kind of been in a holding pattern for a while and being the president of the company and not being able to get it moved in the last year makes me feel like I’m kind of doing the wrong thing, and I want to get the project moved and if that takes me stepping down as president and letting some new blood come in and someone that’s going to move the project forward then I think that’s the right thing to do.”
After the original heads of agreement created a firestorm, as key concerns arose about environmental and economic provisions and the manner in which the deal was signed, the government announced that it had appointed a Cabinet subcommittee to renegotiate the deal, but Grikitis said there has been no movement in that regard.
In June 2020, he spoke to The Nassau Guardian about the frustrations in getting a new heads of agreement concluded and indicated that Oban had scaled back the project to make it a greener operation.
Grikitis said last night his resignation caught Oban’s board off guard, but he said the company is still interested in gaining approvals for its plan.
“I don’t think they really (the board) knew what to say at the time, but I think in the end they kind of welcomed it because I think they feel the same way, that some change might be needed and I think from the government’s perspective, some change is needed,” he said. “I think they want to see someone with oil and gas knowledge.”
Asked whether he still thinks there is hope to move the project forward, Grikitis said, “I think there is if both sides can come together and both speak.
“It’s hard to move a project forward when there is no communication, but I think if the government clearly stated to Oban what they want and Oban clearly stated to the government what they need in order to get the project financed and move forward; a project this size, there’s not just money sitting on a bank account somewhere. You have to get certain approvals done, certain aspects of the project, and you have to [meet] certain requirements in order to get a project like this off the ground.”
Grikitis said he and the company’s lawyer had a conference call with Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest over the summer. Other than that Oban has not met with the government in more than a year, he said.