Although the Ministry of Economic Development and Petroleum reconfirmed in a press release to the general public that the regional offshore seismic survey has been cancelled, it does not entirely signal the cancellation of offshore oil exploration in the country. Yes, seismic testing has been cancelled, but now a multibeam vessels are still tentatively scheduled to enter Belizean waters by tomorrow Friday, November 11,2016.
On Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, the Ministry of Economic Development and Petroleum issued a press release titled “CANCELLATION OF THE REGIONAL OFFSHORE SEISMIC SURVEY”. In that document, the Ministry of Economic Development and Petroleum confirmed that “the regional offshore seismic survey has been cancelled.”
Coming from Oceana Belize, however, in at least one related news report aired on November 8, 2016, the Inspector of Petroleum Andre Cho was reported as saying that vessels controlled by TGS were still scheduled to enter Belizean waters to conduct the second part of the multi-beam survey; the scheduled arrival date was reported as November 11, 2016. The press release also advised that the public consultations, initially proposed on the seismic survey but which would have inevitably also addressed questions from the public about multi-beam activities, will not be conducted.
Oceana wrote to the Ministry of Petroleum and Economic Development on Wednesday, November 9th 2016 to restate their position that this activity, being done by a company for and on behalf of the oil industry as part of a regional initiative, constitutes offshore oil exploration. Oceana also urged the Ministry of Economic Development and Petroleum to postpone the scheduled arrival of these vessels pending the conduct of active, meaningful engagement with the Belizean public.
The CEO in the Ministry of Petroleum Yvonne Hyde has emailed Oceana with this response: “I would like to inform [Oceana] that Government has informed the company (TGS) of its desire to postpone the this survey until we are able to carry out consultations with all the relevant stakeholders. We are committed to collaboration with all stakeholders in our joint effort to ensure that Belize is well served in all aspects of its development process. I trust that my reply will put your fears to rest.”
Oceana in Belize assures Belizeans that we will continue to do our part to ensure that the petroleum sector is developed transparently and inclusively and in a responsible and environmentally conscious manner in order to contribute to the sustainable development of Belize.