DOUGLAS, UK – The Bahamian House of Assembly is reviewing a Petroleum Bill and associated regulations and a Sovereign Wealth Bill.
According toBahamas Petroleum Co. (BPC), these are set to guide and govern the next phase of hydrocarbon exploration around the islands and to serve as the legislative framework for managing accrued wealth from any exploration success on behalf of the population.
The regulations associated with the Petroleum Bill comprise requirements and standards for operations, health and safety and environmental management, the aim being to implement a modernized structure under which international best practice can be applied.
Following the current second readings and debates, there will be a committal stage followed by third readings where members of the house will vote on the bills prior to passage to the senate for their consent.
If this comes through, the bills will be sent to the Governor General for assent, and will then be enacted in law and referred to as thePetroleum Act and the Sovereign Wealth Act.
BPC says approval would provide the assurance for investors to develop “potentially huge” resources in Bahamian waters.
Additionally, the government has agreed on terms for a license renewal addendum for BPC’s four concessions in waters south of the islands, namely the Bain, Cooper, Donaldson, and Eneas licenses. All were initially awarded in April 2007 and renewed into their second exploration period in July 2013.
The agreement acknowledges that the company has satisfied all obligations in respect of the first exploration period, via a program that included acquisition and processing of modern 2D and 3D seismic data. The second exploration period of these licenses, now extended until 2Q 2018, carries an obligation to spud at least one exploration well by April 2017.
Following an adjustment of their boundaries, they now include all contiguous territorial waters in the Bahamas up to the Cuban maritime border.
Previously, BPC also submitted applications for five new licenses. After discussions with the government, the company has amended its application to three licenses (Andros, Islamorada and Zapata), excluding an area of the proposed Cay Sal National Marine Reserve.
All the areas are on trend from plays identified in the southern licenses.