Govít Supports LNG
By Candia Dames
2 May 2006
The government has made a policy decision that it is not opposed to liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in the Bahamas, according to Prime Minister Perry Christie, but he still did not give any timelines for when the government hopes to give the green light to any of the energy companies with LNG proposals.
He said LNG "can happen in the country".
"I think we are making good progress," Prime Minister Christie said in an interview with the Bahama Journal, referring to the governmentís consultations and review of the proposals.
"We know that the former government had given a commitment to it, but did not allow for some of the developments that have taken place. I think that we have had an exhaustive review of it and the government has made a policy decision that it is not opposed to LNG in the country and now it is moving forward to the final review of most certainly at least one of the applications before us."
The prime minister was no doubt referring to the Virginia-based AES Corporation, which is proposing an LNG project at Ocean Cay, near Cat Cay and Bimini. The company wants to run an LNG pipeline to Florida to help meet that stateís growing demand for energy.
But it has had a wait of several years after it received approval in principle from the Ingraham Administration. One year ago, AES appeared poised to get final approval from the government, but objections from wealthy second homeowners on Cat Cay further delayed a decision on the matter.
The government is also considering a second proposal from Suez and El Paso Corporations, which have combined a proposal for Grand Bahama after first presenting separate plans.
But the CEO of Suez indicated recently that his company had grown weary of the wait for a decision from the Bahamas government and would seek to get approval from the state of Florida for an LNG project off the Florida Coast.
Last week, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Nassau Dr. Brent Hardt said the government should establish timelines for investors so that when they submit proposals they would have an idea of how long it would take to get an answer.
"I think the worst thing for investors is to continue month after month without clarity," Dr. Hardt said.
When he spoke to the Bahama Journal, the prime minister responded to Dr. Hardtís comments, intimating that the U.S. diplomat was out of line.
"I am surprised at the comments," Prime Minister Christie said. "Thatís like me saying the same thing about the United States of America. I assume he is well intentioned in saying it, but I think sometimes Dr. Hardt doesnít realize what a minister or a cabinet has to do in balancing development applications."
He added: "Oftentimes, there is an application that has important policy implications. For example, LNG was one where some people feel very strongly about opposing the installation or establishment of a facility in the Bahamas and it took time for that process to move forward, more time than those who would have wished it to happen in Florida would have allowed for and so timelines couldnít help that process."
Mr. Christie said the government needed the time it took to consider the LNG applications and will make an announcement after it is has concluded final review of the proposals.
"That process just had to have time for consideration, the time for consultation and I think people have to understand that a country moving forward with a huge infusion of cash coming into it, inflows, development proposals, the question [is] how far we have to go in developing our country at a time when we donít even have the manpower to service the construction jobs," the prime minister told the Bahama Journal.
"So, a lot of consideration goes into decision making. Sometimes there are those persons who are looking from outside [who wouldnít know]."