The Government of The Bahamas remains focused on Grand Bahama’s economic growth in spite of the Oban misstep, Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert A. Minnis said Tuesday. Wrapping up the debate on the Mid-Year Budget in the House of Assembly, Prime Minister Minnis acknowledged that “missteps” were made in the Oban Energies LLC Project. The project was intended to bring growth and jobs to Grand Bahama. Prime Minister Minnis said measures have been put in place to ensure no future occurrences. “My Government committed to Grand Bahama, and to The Bahamas, to do all within our power to bring economic development and growth to Grand Bahama as a matter of urgency,” Prime Minister Minnis said. “This has been our focus at all times. We intend to fulfill this commitment. It is one of the keys to our overall growth as a nation. The Oban Energies LLC Project was intended to bring growth and jobs to Grand Bahama. In our haste to boost the economy of Grand Bahama, we made a number of missteps in the Oban Energies Project. “While our heart was in the right place, these missteps should not have happened. We must, we can and we will do better,” Prime Minister Minnis added.
Prime Minister Minnis outlined some of the histories behind the proposed Oban Energies LLC Project. The Prime Minister said records show that there were two approvals in principle by the National Economic Council (NEC) for the project, one in 2009 to Mid-Atlantic Project LLC. By 2016, the name of the company was changed to Oban Energies LLC, and the beneficial owner is the K Family Irrevocable Trust. Mr. Peter Krieger was the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. He had no beneficial interest in the K Family Trust. Prime Minister Minnis said it was this company that was given the second approval in principle by the former Progressive Liberal Party Administration on November 15, 2016, at a National Economic Council Meeting. “Most Cabinet Ministers were present at that NEC Meeting including members who are now the Opposition in both Houses of Parliament – here and in the Senate. Mr. Peter Krieger was CEO and Satpal Dhunna was President of Oban Energies LLC,” Prime Minister Minnis added.
Prime Minister Minnis said as early as 2009, a draft Heads of Agreement was submitted to BIA (Bahamas Investment Authority) and sent to the Office of the Attorney General for its review. “This document was not executed,” the Prime Minister added. Prime Minister Minnis said the second proposed Heads of Agreement was “forwarded to the PLP Government” by the Bahamian attorney for Oban Energies LLC. “This was sent to the Office of the Attorney General on March 30, 2017, for review,” the Prime Minister continued, “it should be noted that in this Heads of Agreement, Mr. Peter Krieger was to sign on behalf of Oban Energies LLC. “The PLP never got around to signing this agreement. Note that the PLP agreed to the development, despite the hypocrisy they are now displaying,” the Prime Minister added. Prime Minister Minnis said a 2016 video shows Mr. Peter Krieger and then Minister for Grand Bahama, Dr. Michael Darville along with relevant government officials, and Oban Energies’ Bahamian attorney at the time, at the original site for the proposed development.
Prime Minister Minnis said: “Furthermore, one of them visited the site in Grand Bahama, approved the project and was about to sign the Heads of Agreement.” Prime Minister Minnis said Mr. Satpal Dhunna (President of Oban Energies LLC) arrived in The Bahamas on February 6, (2018) with the expectation to sign the Heads of Agreement on February 7. “The document was not ready for signature, so he remained in The Bahamas until February 10, at which time he signed the agreement and then left the country to attend other business. The Heads of Agreement was subsequently signed by the Secretary to the Cabinet,” Prime Minister Minnis said.
The Prime Minister said in recognition of its promise to keep Bahamians informed, the Government arranged for a ceremonial signing of February 19, 2018. “We accept that we should have clearly indicated on the 19 of February 2018, that it was a ceremonial signing. It should be noted that it is not unusual for a Heads of Agreement to be signed before a ceremonial signing so as to ensure that there is a firm agreement between the various parties. “It is unfortunate that at the ceremonial signing, Mr. Peter Krieger wrote the name of Satpal Dhunna whose name was printed under the signature line in the space provided for the signature of Mr. Dhunna. He should have noted that he was signing on behalf of Mr. Dhunna and signed his name as the authorized representative of the K Family Irrevocable Trust on the ceremonial document.” Prime Minister Minnis said the Government has decided to make the effective date of the Heads of Agreement, February 19, 2018, to conform with the public ceremonial signing. “I am advised that effective March 1, 2018, Mr. Krieger has resigned from the company,” Prime Minister Minnis added.