The scientific evidence that oil damages coral in a significant and long term way is indisputable. The only defense is to be able to very quickly contain and neutralize the inevitable spill. We simply do not have that capacity. The recent training exercise conducted in the Placencia area would in no way prepare Belize to deal with an off shore spill or drilling accident/incident. If we drill off-shore for a pie in the sky chance of a major find without being able to protect the very delicate environment we are being foolish to the point of putting an entire industry at risk. I would like to remind all, including Manuel Heredia Jr., that tourism now accounts for around one half of our national production and if he supports offshore drilling and something goes wrong he will personally take the blame as Minister of Tourism and will be responsible for destroying the economy of San Pedro. We are playing with big stakes here and we cannot afford to play Russian Roulette with our future and the futures of our children.
In my conversations with various stakeholders an oil industry professional with ties to Belize volunteered this “If I was to make a sweeping statement, I'd be inclined to urge Belize to get some outside help, since I do not believe there is the level of expertise necessary to properly oversee the proposed operation currently in the country.
Having said that, I would not expect the actual drilling operation to be anything but a routine job.
But - as we've seen - things can go wrong. My concern would be that there is almost no equipment available to tackle any kind of emergency, in the unlikely event that it is needed. Worse than that, since the amount of oil that I would expect to be found (if any) would be relatively small - it would not make financial sense for whoever would be responsible for cleaning up a spill (or whatever) to do so with any level of completeness.
Finally, it seems to me that every single entity above a certain size that is doing or has done business in Belize has managed to negotiate terms and conditions that leave Belize with little benefit from them being there. I would hope that should this exploration go ahead that Belize would get a better cut of the profits than it has negotiated for itself in the past.”
“I have been saddened by the willingness of certain companies operating in Belize to maximize profits either to the detriment of the Belizean people or without adding to the quality of life of the people in whose country they operate. This, unfortunately, is in the nature of business. However, it is the business and purpose of the Belizean government to ensure that Belize also profits from these enterprises. This obligation appears to me to have been sadly neglected in the past and my fear is that it will not be met in the future.”
“Nobody in Belize has the equipment or resources to tackle an oil spill. Neither does the government have the necessary finances to do this. Therefore it would necessarily fall to the company who makes the spill to clean it up. However, since the consequence of not doing a good job are likely to be far less than doing a good job - there would be little reason for the oil company to meet it's obligations. In the USA the consequence would be to stop that company from operating there anymore. This would be a huge loss to the company. In Belize they'd just laugh and wave out of the aircraft window as they head off.
In addition - this will not be a huge corporation with massive resources doing the drilling - or I very much doubt it. It is more likely to be a fairly small operation that has limited resources.
In the case of BP - it is big enough to be self insured. It can bear massive costs. In the case of Anadarko (who are 25% owners of the GOM well) although they are a large oil company, they are still not large enough to be self insured. Although this insurance was thought to be large enough for purpose - it's now clear that it will only paid for two months of the cleanup.
The lesson to be learned here is that whoever is doing the drilling must have a huge amount of insurance in order to pay for the cleanup.
And - they better have a plan, because you can bet your bottom dollar than nobody in the GOB has the slightest clue on how to tackle an oil spill.”
“I, like you, believe that the best results for Belize will come from Tourism. It is my opinion that no enterprise should be allowed to operate in Belize that has a substantial risk of putting this valuable resource and revenue stream at jeopardy."
Edited by Mike Campbell (03/14/15 09:38 AM)
Edit Reason: punctuation