NASSAU — The government will allow exploratory drilling to determine if the country has commercially viable oil reserves before it holds a referendum on the issue, Minister of the Environment and Housing Kenred Dorsett said yesterday.
Dorsett explained that the exploration data needed to verify if the country has enough petroleum reserves to justify drilling would not be available until the end of 2014 or early 2015. As a result, the government is not expected to hold an oil drilling referendum before the second half of 2015, depending on the outcome of the exploration, Dorsett said.
“Exploration drilling is of course the only way the Bahamian people will be able to get a scientific answer to the burning question as to whether petroleum reserves even exist in commercial quantities in our waters,” he said in a statement.
Necessary for referendum
“Obviously, we are not going to have a referendum on a hypothetical proposition.
“More particularly, we are not going to ask the electorate to vote on whether they want to develop an oil industry if there is no oil to begin with.
“Thus, we need to find out first, through exploration drilling, whether we do indeed have oil in commercially viable quantities.
“If we don’t, then obviously it would be completely pointless and a shameful waste of public funds to have a referendum on the matter.”
The Bahamas Petroleum Company was granted five oil exploration licenses in April 2007, the company’s website notes. (Nassau Guardian)