Ba­hamas an­nounces new Pe­tro­leum Act to gov­ern oil ex­plo­ration

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

The Ba­hamas gov­ern­ment Wed­nes­day said it has com­pleted the prepa­ra­tion of a new Pe­tro­leum Act and a suite of reg­u­la­tions de­signed to guide and gov­ern oil ex­plo­ration in coun­try.

En­vi­ron­ment and Hous­ing Min­is­ter Kenred M.A. Dorsett said the leg­is­la­tion and reg­u­la­tions will form “an in­te­gral part” of the re­cently an­nounced Na­tional En­ergy pol­icy.

“This new leg­isla­tive pack­age will also in­clude the leg­isla­tive frame­work for a Sov­er­eign Wealth Fund to en­sure that in the event oil is dis­cov­ered in com­mer­cially vi­able quan­ti­ties, the wealth that will ac­crue to the na­tion as a re­sult will be in­vested, man­aged and con­served in the most op­ti­mal way for present and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of Ba­hami­ans.”

He said the new leg­isla­tive pack­age will be in­tro­duced to Par­lia­ment as soon as it meets fol­low­ing the short re­cess. Dorsett said that the new leg­isla­tive regime will en­sure that ex­plo­ration for oil in The Ba­hamas will be un­der­taken in a safe and en­vi­ron­men­tally re­spon­si­ble man­ner, con­sis­tent with in­ter­na­tional stan­dards, best prac­tices and the most up-to-date risk man­age­ment, health and safety pro­to­cols.

“It goes with­out say­ing, that if oil is dis­cov­ered in com­mer­cially vi­able quan­ti­ties in The Ba­hamas, it will have a mas­sively trans­for­ma­tive ef­fect on our for­tunes as a peo­ple. It will al­low us to de­liver on our com­mit­ment to elim­i­nate the fis­cal deficit while at the same time pro­vid­ing a plat­form for the sys­tem­atic re­duc­tion in the cost of elec­tric­ity on a sus­tained ba­sis for con­sumers both res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial.”

“Longer term, it will vastly in­crease the wealth of the na­tion through the cre­ation of a flour­ish­ing new in­dus­trial sec­tor and a sov­er­eign wealth fund, one that has the po­ten­tial of en­rich­ing the na­tion beyond its imag­i­na­tion.”

But Dorsett said that while it is “ob­vi­ously im­por­tant that we not count our chick­ens be­fore they are hatched” it is also “so im­por­tant that we put in place a new, mod­ern­ized, up-to-date leg­isla­tive frame­work…that will en­able us to find out, through li­censed and prop­erly reg­u­lated ex­plo­ration, just what we have in the way of pe­tro­leum re­sources.

“If as a re­sult of such ex­plo­ration, we do dis­cover oil in com­mer­cially sig­nif­i­cant quan­ti­ties, we will al­ready have put in place a leg­isla­tive regime to en­sure that we make the best of it in an en­vi­ron­men­tally re­spon­si­ble way and in a way that will en­sure the best pos­si­ble fi­nan­cial re­turns for our na­tion.”

He said Ba­hami­ans can rest as­sured, that the Perry Christie gov­ern­ment “re­mains res­o­lute to its com­mit­ment to ac­tu­al­iz­ing those ob­jec­tives”.

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