As we told you on Wednesday night, the one dollar tax on fuel imposed in March 2009 by the government is not about to be removed any time soon even though the prices of premium and regular gasoline at the pumps are well over ten dollars. Not far from the issue of fuel prices is that of oil exploration. Last year, offshore drilling moved up to the front burner among non-government organizations and environmental groups. That’s because it came to light that numerous licenses had been issued for oil drilling dangerously close to the barrier reef, a World Heritage site. On Wednesday, the Prime Minister was asked about government’s position in respect of the licenses and according to the PM, he won’t walk away from the contracts.
“I’m telling you my position in terms of offshore drilling remains the same, and that is that there is no position currently. We’re looking at all that you people say, all that the advocates against offshore drilling. We are looking at what is being given to us by our own experts and at the appropriate time a decision will have to be made. I am telling you that we’re not going to lightly ignore written contracts. This is not a Michael Ashcroft type scenario. These are legitimate contracts, not outlaw agreements and we simply can’t walk away from contracts. If Oceana and you people might be ablet o find the monies that will be able to pay off the concessionaires, then you might have an even more compelling case, but we make no formal, no final decision immediately because we don’t have to. Nobody is close enough to being able to drill offshore for us to be forced to making a decision. When that time comes, hopefully we will have collected all the information and would have put ourselves in a position to make a proper informed decision. In terms of the national parks, we are hopeful that the U.S. Capital Energy people in the south will be able to proceed. Everything is coming up roses in terms of seismic that has been shot. And I’m telling you, since that matter has already went to court, if they say they are ready to drill they will be allowed to drill. That matter I was involved in the issue when it went before Mister Justice Awich and that’s been cleared and so I believe that’s also part of your breech. But while I can’t give you a definitive position on offshore, I am giving you a definitive position on that one. Drilling will be permitted.”
“UNESCO be damned.”
“I would never say UNESCO be damned. I would say UNESCO notwithstanding.”
Geovanni Brackett, Plus TV
“Andre Cho admitted that there were concessions that he believed should have never been given. Take for example the Princess Petroleum have no background, have no sort of backing in sort of oil exploration to be gambling offshore…”
“Which should have never have been given as a matter of judgment. They were given no doubt by the last administration and they were not illegal. That is the problem. You cannot simply turn your back on legitimate commercial agreements under which people have already made investments.”