On February 19, 2018, government held a ceremonial signing with Florida-based Oban Energies for a $5.5 billion oil refinery and storage facility on Grand Bahama.
Two years later, there has been no movement made on the controversial deal.
Last November, Oban said in a press release that negotiations were ongoing and that it was still committed to completing the project.
However, the company’s president, Alexander Grikitis, recently told The Nassau Guardian that there is no update available on how negotiations are coming along presently.
Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest, who is also the East Grand Bahama MP, said on Tuesday, that the matter is before a subcommittee at Cabinet but that he could not be sure when the committee would be reporting back.
The status of the deal remains unclear.
A heads of agreement was originally signed during a press conference with Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and then-Oban Energies Non-Executive Chairman Peter Krieger, who signed on behalf of Oban.
Since then, the deal plunged into controversy.
Concerns were raised due to the agreement having been signed without an environmental impact assessment (EIA) in place.
It was also revealed that the signing was ceremonial, as then-Oban Energies President Satpal Dhunna had already signed the heads of agreement on February 10; and then zoomed-in video footage showed that Krieger appeared to sign the name of “Satpal Dhunna” instead of his own name.
Krieger’s character was also called into question when it was reported that in 2006, he pleaded guilty to the first degree felony of organized fraud, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Minnis later admitted that his government made mistakes regarding the Oban deal in its haste to boost the economy of Grand Bahama, and, as a result, ordered a subcommittee and technical advisory group to examine the agreement in hopes of renegotiation.
He announced in Parliament that Krieger had resigned from Oban, and ultimately Oban announced that Grikitis replaced Dhunna.
Since then, Grand Bahama’s economy has been further impacted by the passage of Hurricane Dorian last September.
During Dorian – the strongest hurricane on record to hit The Bahamas – an oil spill occurred at Equinor oil’s South Riding Point terminal, leading the environmental group Save the Bays to warn government to take it as a lesson on how to treat projects like Oban.