By Alison Lowe
Nassau Guardian Business Editor
NASSAU, Bahamas -- The government of The Bahamas is considering applications from two oil companies that are seeking exploration and production licences to search for oil in waters north of Grand Bahama.
Bahamas Petroleum and Atlantic Petroleum have applied to the government for eight licences for territory covering an area of around 5.4 million acres.
Minister of the Environment and Housing Kenred Dorsett and Bahamas Petroleum Company Limited (BPC), confirmed that the companies are separate and apart from any exploratory efforts being undertaken by BPC, which currently has five active exploratory licences in the southern Bahamas, close to the border with Cuba.
Dorsett said that the government is now seeking public feedback on the proposed licences, according to the law.
“We look at each applicant on its merits and make decisions based on each application, and I think that’s what has historically been done. BPC are the only ones who have been issued a licence, at present, but there are others who have, in this instance, made an application, but they’ve not been licensed. The law requires a process and the areas involved have to be gazetted.”
Dorsett did not say whether the government is minded to approve the licenses.
Permanent Secretary Camille Johnson said that there is a “nexus” between the two companies, Atlantic Petroleum and Bahamas Petroleum, although it is unclear in what regard at this stage.
According to filings before the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in July 2010, a company called Offshore Petroleum Corp (OFC) listed companies called Atlantic Petroleum Limited and Bahamas Exploration Limited as subsidiaries.
While it is unclear if there is a connection between this subsidiary and Atlantic Petroleum, and if Bahamas Exploration Limited and Bahamas Petroleum Limited may, in fact, be one and the same, OFC said that its objective was to “explore and, if warranted, develop the area covered by eight licenses to be granted by the government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas”.
The filings later stated that there was “no assurance the licenses will be granted”.
“We will not list our shares on any exchange, or further pursue the effectiveness of the registration statement of which this prospectus forms a part, until the licenses are received,” said OFC.
Guardian Business attempted to reach the company at the phone contact provided, but the number listed, for an office in Fort Lauderdale, was out of service.
The development comes as investors in BPC, which is listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM), a sub-market of the London Stock Exchange, continue their efforts to identify a partner who will bring the capital needed to spud an exploratory well in Bahamian waters.
Such a well is necessary to test the results of the data gathered by the company so far, which it says indicate a significant possibility of a major oil find in Bahamian waters.
Last week, Guardian Business reported that BPC’s share price has fallen to its lowest level since 2009, as investors questioned whether or not the company will be successful in its “farmout” efforts to find a company to partner with in the drilling initiative.
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian