Bahamas Offshore Oil Drilling Raises Environmental Concerns

Sydney Campbell, Senior Design Editor

Although Florida’s waters remain protected from offshore oil drilling because of the Constitutional ban, the Bahamian government intends to start drilling for oil 150 miles off Florida’s coast. The Bahamas Petroleum Company hired the UK Stena IceMAX drillship for this project. 

The ship will arrive in the Bahamas around Dec. 15 and should reach its destination within 5 days of arrival. 

Environmentalists have urged the BCP to cancel this project, as they fear and recognize that the drilling may have multiple serious effects on marine life and ecosystems in both the Carribean and Florida. They also suggest that the government focus on tourism as a key source of  income instead of trying to rely on oil that can cause great potential damage to coastal communities and the ecosystem. 

Several conservationist groups joined forces and wrote a letter to the prime minister of the Bahamas, Hubert Minnis, expressing their concern and reasons for opposing the drilling. 

Their major concern resides in the lack of a clear environmental impact analysis, which they state in the letter as “a basic component of any Environment Impact Assessment.” 

EIA’s remain an important step in evaluating the potential impact of a project on the environment. They act to protect animals and their ecosystem as well as people. 

In oil drilling, digging an exploratory well acts as a crucial first step to check the size and volume of potential oil deposits in a production area. 

The EIA that the BCP provided for this project does not make their intentions clear. At times, it refers to a single exploratory well. Meanwhile, at other times, it refers to a series of three wells without any mention of the actual drilling process and without any regard as to how transporting the oil could affect the environment.