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Bahamas adopts new petroleum law to balance economic and environmental priorities

6 June 2016

The Bahamas’ Minister of Environment and Housing, Kenred Dorsett, has commended the Commonwealth for advising on new legislation for the country’s petroleum industry which aims to ensure economic and environmental sustainability.

Minister Dorsett expressed high praise for the Commonwealth specialists in ocean governance and natural resources who offered technical advice to the country. The experts reviewed existing petroleum laws, which date back to the 1970s, and proposed changes which have now become law in the form of a new petroleum act and regulations.

The new legislation includes policies to govern the exploration and production of oil, health and safety practices, environmental protection and pollution control, as well as regulations to manage profit-sharing between investors.

Commonwealth support offered to The Bahamas has “borne fruit”, Minister Dorsett said. “On behalf of the Government of The Bahamas, I express our thanks for the services provided by the Commonwealth Secretariat and for its guidance in the delivery of modern legislation that is crafted to protect the environment, provide safe conditions for those working in the upstream industry and allow a fair and economic return for both investors and the people of The Bahamas.”

International investors have reacted positively to news of the legislation, with The Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) plc, seeing an increase in its share price. The willingness of investors to fund BPC’s exploration activity is a step in the right direction, says Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Deodat Maharaj.  “Our focus is to help The Bahamas to ensure that its legal, fiscal and environmental framework legislation is in sync with best practices and international standards. Central to this work is balancing exploration with environmental protection and enforcement of health and safety rules,” he stated.

“I congratulate The Bahamas for this suite of legislation that can be used to create economic opportunities and support the diversification of the Bahamian economy.”