Irrelevant Victory on Illegal PUP Oil Contracts Print E-mail
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Thursday, 18 April 2013 00:00

Audrey Matura Audrey Matura Sheppard, Vice President of Oceana in Belize, stood outside the Supreme Court and posed for the Guardian Newspaper holding a judgment by Justice Oswell Legal on Tuesday April 16th. Oceana along with Citizens Organized for Liberty Through Action (COLA) and the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage had filed a claim in 2011 against the Minister of Natural Resources. They were seeking that the Supreme Court declare that offshore drilling agreements signed by the PUP government in 2004 and 2007 for 6 companies be declared illegal because they were in breach of the Environmental Protection Act, the Petroleum Act, the Fisheries Act, and the National Parks System Act.

It is noteworthy that the 6 Production Sharing Agreements signed were all done under the People’s United Party Government’s tenure. Island Oil’s contract  was signed on 25th May 2004, Miles Tropical Energy, Petrol Belize Company Limited, Princess Petroleum Belize Limited, Providence Energy Belize Limited and Sol Oil Belize Limited secretly signed their contracts on 12th October, 2007.

In a 44 page ruling Justice Legal ruled that the contracts signed in 2004 and 2007 were unlawful and void. He also ruled that before entering into agreements or contracts which authorize oil exploration and seismic surveys that environmental impact assessments are required. An injunction was then granted restraining the Minister of Natural Resources from executing the PSA’s

In a release from the Energy, Science and Technology and the PUC it states that the ministry has terminated PSA’s for Miles Tropical Energy Limited, Petro Belize Company Limited and Sol Oil Belize Limited on April 12, 2013 because of breaches to the Petroleum Act and other material obligations under the Act. It goes on to state that the Production Sharing Agreement awarded to Island Oil Belize Limited expired on May 24 2012.  The only companies which will be affected by the ruling are Princess Petroleum Limited and Providence Energy Belize Limited which have contracts that extend to October 2015. To date the government of Belize under the UDP administration has not given out offshore drilling contracts.

The government will be appealing the decision by the Supreme Court.

It is significant, and the Belizean people must always be reminded that these contracts were not signed by the UDP government. In fact very much like the Superbond, the PUP placed the government in a situation which the UDP now has to find a solution to. This is typical of the last administration’s dealings and shenanigans. If it were left up to them we should just forget these misdeeds alas, that is just wishful thinking. Every single day they must be reminded of who they are and what they represent and Belizean people must be mindful that even now the same people who hold office and those who aspire to hold office are part and parcel of these kinds of dealings.

We shall never forget. The PUP has cost and is costing the Belizean people too much!