NASSAU, Bahamas, Mar 7, CMC – President of the US-based Oban Energies, Satpal Dhunna, is defending the heads of agreement signed with the Bahamas government for the construction of a US$5.5 billion oil refinery and storage facility on Grand Bahama.
“I’m now on the ground in The Bahamas and my directive from the Oban Energies board of directors and advisory board is that ‘best of The Bahamas’ and ‘Bahamian’ should become our trademark,”Dhunna said in a newspaper advertisement amid concerns of opposition to the deal.
Opposition Leader Phillip Davis says a Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) would not continue with the project if it wins the next general election.
“When we are in office, we will have to see where they are with this project. We have to see whether or not it has been cleaned up. That will be whenever the election is called.
“If it remains as it is today and we are in the same position that we are in today, the answer is it is more likely that we will not continue with this project than to continue with the project,” he told reporters earlier this week.
But in the newspaper advertisement titled “A tide of opportunity rising for Grand Bahama”, Dhunna urged Bahamians “never mind the noise in the market, you mind the price of the fish.
“That’s what we’re doing, taking time to build strong and build to last. The Bahamianizing process has begun at ground level through forging partnerships with Bahamian companies, which have gained highest respect for their expertise and probity”
He said several Bahamian companies were already engaged for coastal and other environmental processes, some of the companies involved have an internal track record.
While the advertisement did not address the recent controversy surrounding the project, Dhunna said “we are employing local talent straight through, engaging local suppliers and creating housing, which provides for long-term and sustainable economic benefits.”
Media reports here said that when the heads of agreement was signed on February 19, video footage later showed that Oban non-executive chairman, Peter Krieger, who sat next to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, did not sign his name on the document, and that the signature on the agreement spears to read “
The media reports said that Krieger has in recent years ran afoul of US laws.
Prime Minister Minnis last week tabled the agreement in the Parliament.
In the advertisement, the US-based company said that it intends to inject US$35 million into the Grand Bahama economy.
“In the construction phase alone, Oban Energies intends to inject over $35 million into the Grand Bahamian community through contributions to national insurance, community development initiatives, housing, lease premium and rental payments, research, education and training.
“Foreign direct investment is slated to yield a total capital expenditure of a projected $5.5 billion through foreign investors and financial institutions, making Oban Energies’ project one of the largest foreign direct investments across the Caribbean,” the advertisement noted.
It said “overall, the projected increase in FDI (foreign direct investment) net inflow could make The Bahamas number one in real GDP growth across Latin America and Caribbean.”