BPC, the Caribbean and Atlantic margin focused oil and gas company, with exploration, production, appraisal and development assets across the region, notes that an application has been made to the Supreme Court of The Bahamas, for leave to make an application for judicial review of the decision taken by the Government of The Bahamas in February 2020 to grant Environmental Authorisation for BPC's Perseverance #1 well ("Environmental Authorisation") which is expected to spud imminently. The application has been brought by a number of environmental activists. The applicants are also seeking a stay of the Environmental Authorisation pending the outcome of any judicial review, an extension of time to make their application, and have raised a number of other legal arguments in support of their claims. The respondent to the application is the Government of The Bahamas. The applicants have specifically sought to exclude BPC from being heard in relation to this matter. BPC understands that the Government of The Bahamas will oppose the application, and BPC intends to apply to the Court to be heard as a person affected and to oppose the application.
Given that BPC's drilling operations are scheduled to commence before the end of 2020 (and indeed, considerable work has already commenced for those operations), BPC anticipates that the application for a stay will be determined definitively by the Court on an expedited basis, prior to drilling operations commencing. BPC believes the application to be without legal basis or merit and considers that there should be no legal impediment to proceeding with the drilling of the Perseverance #1 well.
Commenting, Simon Potter, CEO of BPC, said:
"Yesterday's application for a judicial review, an extension of time and a stay, from a group of environmental activists, is entirely without merit. BPC will vigorously oppose the application, and we understand that the Government of The Bahamas will be doing likewise. BPC's drilling plans have been public knowledge for almost a decade, and the Government provided Environmental Authorisation to BPC in February 2020, following an extensive program of work. Environmental activists could have sought to bring this application at any time - that they have waited until now, on the cusp of drilling, speaks to their true agenda, which is not any real concern for judicial process but simply to disrupt and stop our lawful activity.
"The Government of The Bahamas is exercising its legitimate, sovereign right to establish if the nation of The Bahamas has its own commercial hydrocarbon resource. With the islands facing economic fragility, suffering from both hurricane damage and the impacts of Covid-19, a successful petroleum discovery has the potential to rebase the economy, generate billions in revenues over the life of the project and create new contracts and jobs. No oil will be produced by Perseverance #1 as it is purely a fact-finding exercise of short duration. The people of The Bahamas have a right to know if this resource is there for them and for future generations of Bahamians. In the past 10 years, many thousands of offshore oil wells have been drilled safely and without incident all around the world, and many other nations in the region such as the USA, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname and Guyana, have over the past decades safely and responsibly drilled offshore wells, developed or continue to develop offshore hydrocarbon resources, and reaped the economic benefits of an established or a whole new industry. Moreover, these other nations have been able to do so at the same time as seeing growth and development of existing industry sectors, such as tourism.
"The Government of The Bahamas is to be commended for the thorough, comprehensive process of review and scrutiny they put BPC through over nearly a decade around the Environmental Authorisation process for the drilling of the well, as well as for the Petroleum Act and Petroleum Operations related Regulations which were passed into law in 2016. In gaining its Environmental Authorisation, BPC adhered to all applicable Bahamian laws, and over and above this adhered to all applicable guidelines, international standards and best practices. We look forward to proceeding with Perseverance #1 on schedule, and fulfilling our licence commitments to the Government of The Bahamas."