LNG Project Approved
Minister of Trade and Industry Leslie Miller told the Bahama Journal yesterday that the government has approved in principle the proposal submitted by the AES Corporation to build a liquefied natural gas pipeline in The Bahamas.
The minister was asked to respond to reports in the Trinidadian press yesterday, which quoted him announcing the approval at the IBC/Energy Caribbean conference.
“We intend to diversify and expand the economic mix which will enable us to move ahead,” he said. “The environment and tourism impacts can and will be addressed and the government intends to provide the clarity and stability necessary to attract these investments.”
Minister Miller’s announcement came on the same day that the Tractebel and El Paso energy companies and FPL Group Resources were announcing an alliance geared at sealing the government’s approval to carry out a similar project in the northern Bahamas.
Some Bahamians, particularly those who are a part of environmental groups, are worried about a possible adverse environmental impact any LNG project could have.
AES officials have tried to placate those anxieties, assuring communities in The Bahamas and South Florida that any negative impact would be negligible.
Company officials continue to point to the significant benefits that such a project would bring to The Bahamas.
According to Project Director Aaron Samson, the AES project for The Bahamas would pay $7 million a year in business license fees.
The project is also expected to create about 450 jobs during the construction phase and 25 to 35 permanent employment opportunities.
“We’re convinced that this is a very finance-able project and we won’t have difficulties bringing it to fruition,” Mr. Samson told the Bahama Journal in an earlier interview.
Company information says AES owns or has an interest in 160 plants in 23 countries.
Local environmentalists like those belonging to the group ReEarth continue to raise concerns regarding such projects.
ReEarth spokesperson Sam Duncombe has questioned whether companies like AES choose The Bahamas for their projects because of “our country’s very loose environmental laws.”
“I think a lot of it is that if they choose The Bahamas they would avoid the environmental laws that they would have to adhere to in the United States,” she has told the Bahama Journal.
But it is a criticism Mr. Samson has repeatedly dismissed as he pointed to the unwavering commitment that AES has to the strictest international environmental standards.
The entire project would include a liquefied natural gas import terminal; a liquefied petroleum gas removal plant; a seawater desalination plant; an undersea pipeline to supply potable water from Ocean Cay to North Bimini; as well as Ocean Cay employee housing and associated facilities on South Bimini, and an undersea natural gas supply pipeline.