Regulations and Standards
In compliance with licence obligations and in close collaboration with a number of Government agencies and departments across a multitude of disciplines, Bahamas Petroleum Company has produced an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) that systematically identifies predicts and evaluates as many of the potential environmental impacts as is reasonably possible associated with the drilling of an exploratory well at a simulated well location in the Donaldson block. Once a detailed location is identified and a rig contracted an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) will be completed identifying all plans to mitigate identified potential impacts.
Environmental Impact Assessment
The EIA was reviewed and accepted by The Bahamas Environment Science & Technology Commission in March 2012 and posted for public viewing on their website in October 2012 (www.best.bs). To ensure the well is drilled safely while safeguarding the environment and protecting workers the Company has committed to using best practices and standards from jurisdictions such as Norway, the United States (as pertains post the Gulf of Mexico incident), Australia, the United Kingdom and from international organisations such as International Oil and Gas Producers Forum (OGP – www.ogp.org.uk), International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC – www.iadc.org), and the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA – www.ipieca.org). The significant findings from the EIA were as follows:
- The results of the high resolution sea bottom survey (opposite) showed that there are no sensitive environments in the immediate vicinity of the first proposed drill site – archaeological, fauna, flora or existing infrastructure or usage;
- The drilling environment is one of low/normal pressure reservoirs, thereby reducing the probability of an incident as fluids will not be sufficiently pressured to free flow to the surface without the aid of pumps; and
- The impacts identified were deemed normal or acceptable with proper controls as part of the standard operating practices.
Environmental Management Plan
To complement the EIA, and in fulfilment of further licence requirements an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) has been substantially completed and will be finalised and approved prior to drilling operations going ahead. The EMP is a site-specific plan outlining agreed performance criteria and all measures that are necessary to minimise and mitigate potential impacts to the environment while complying with all aspects of environmental legislation. The EMP provides information on the design, construction and operation of the drill rig and its associated facilities and services and highlight the means by which identified potential risks and impacts will be mitigated. The EMP includes an Oil Spill Contingency Plan and a Waste Management Plan but may be expanded in compliance with any requirements the Minister may impose.
Local and International Regulations
The main legislation that governs the oil and gas industry in The Bahamas is the Petroleum Act promulgated in 2015 and complimented by a series of other local and international regulations, codes of practise and policies to which the Government is a signatory. This Act provides for the exploration, boring and extraction of petroleum through permitting, licensing and leasing system for the exploration, prospecting and mining of petroleum.