Vice-President of OCEANA comments on cancelled oil concessions

Earlier this week, Oceana, COLA, and Belize Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage, won a ruling in the supreme court. Justice Oswell Legall ruled that oil concessions granted from 2005 and 2007 to Island Oil Belize Ltd, Tropical Energy Ltd, Petro Belize Co Ltd, Princess Petroleum Ltd, Providence Energy Belize Ltd and Sol Oil Belize Ltd, were null and void due to failure to follow proper procedures. The judge granted an injunction to prevent continued activity in the areas of concern, all located offshore Belize, around the Barrier Reef.  After the ruling, the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology and Public Utilities, issued a press release saying Miles, Petro Belize and Sol’s agreements had already been terminated in April of 2012 for breaches of the agreements and law, while Island’s PSA expired in May of 2012.  This morning, Oceana’s Vice President called in to Rise and Shine and commented on the cancelled concessions.

Audrey Shepherd – Vice-President OCEANA:
vlcsnap-2013-04-19-20h04m00s229Three days ago the petition came out as if they had a premonition or a vision. Interestingly on this private vote we’ve been telling them for two years to cancel those contracts. They decide to cancel three, but they keep defending two, Princess and Providence.
To say a contract is unlawful means you broke the law.   

Shepherd says that in court, Government could not produce any evidence that the companies complied with certain sections of the contract. Now Government says it plans to appeal the decision. Shepherd had a few words to say about that appeal as well.

Audrey Shepherd – Vice-President OCEANA:
Here is a Government that told us since 2011, that they would want to get out of the contract, and here we give them it on a platter.  And what do they do?  They defend it. But not only do they defend it,  they say to you and me that this contract was signed to us.  Yet, they don’t tell you that the only reason these contracts survive up to 2013 is because every two years they have been renewing those same contracts.  No matter how they try to appeal that case, there’s certain things they will never get across.  And definitely one of them is the Petroleum Act, that clearly says what they had to ask the companies, and they put an onus on them that where necessary they have to ask, even for the information, and not even this basic information were they able to get from the companies.

Shepherd says that the court’s decision also vindicates the position of the 20,000 plus people who participated in the petition for a referendum to decide whether the country would approve offshore drilling or not.  A great number of those 20 thousand plus signatures, eight thousand in fact, were rejected by Elections and Boundaries department because they could not be verified. Seventeen thousand signatures were needed to trigger the referendum.

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