by Larry Smith
Following a series of public presentations by the Bahamas Petroleum Company and the government's relative silence on the matter since the election, former environment minister Earl Deveaux has released an essay he hopes will "explain the complex nature of the subject and inform public discussion about the choices and decisions that must be made."
BPC's interim report for June 2012 expressed "frustration at the lack of clarity coming from the new administration in The Bahamas", while noting that neither of the two main political parties had made any reference to oil exploration or regulation in their election manifestos. Prime Minister Perry Christie has said that regulations must be updated and a national referendum held before oil drilling can proceed.
According to BPC's interim report, "We intend to be aligned to the ‘best practices’ currently employed by Norway, the UK and the US representing internationally recognised standards. BPC will strive to fulfil its role in the transformation of the (Bahamian) economy in the most environmentally safe way possible."
To understand where we are today with oil exploration we need to go back to 1945, when the British enacted our original petroleum law to facilitate exploration by Gulf Oil, Standard Oil, Superior Oil and Shell. This legislation was replaced by the Pindling government in 1971. The new act came into effect seven years later, when the regulations were published, and remains in force today.