By the Caribbean Journal staff
The Bahamas’ government has renewed the oil exploration licence for offshore oil firm Bahamas Petroleum, the company announced in a statement Monday.
The licences were renewed as of Sept. 7, and the company has been in “full compliance” with the terms of the licences, the Petroleum Act and Bahamian laws, it said.
But while the Bahamas could have billions of barrels of oil in its offshore waters, the company will not be held to a drilling a commitment well by April 2013, which was required under the terms of its licences.
That is because the government of new Prime Minister Perry Christie plans to hold a national referendum on oil drilling in the country.
“The timing of the obligation to commence its first exploration well will be dependent on the outcome of a national referendum,” the company said.
Bahamas Petroleum said it had a “detailed well plan” in place, along with detailed recommendations from the Bahamas Environment Science and Technology Commission.
“I am pleased to announce this confirmation from the government with regard to the goodstanding of our licences,” said Bahamas Petroleum CEO Simon Potter in a statement. “It is a positive step, which assures the integrity of the licence area and enables the company to schedule drilling to avoid the 2013 hurricane season and also ensures sufficient time to plan and execute the safest well possible without breaching the terms of the second phase of the licence agreement.”
The Caribbean has been stepping up its offshore oil exploration efforts, particularly in countries such as Guyana and Cuba.
The latter’s foray into exploration was likely one of the reasons that the Bahamas and Cuba came to terms on a defined maritime border after 18 years of negotiations last year.