Members of the public got the opportunity on Tuesday night to hear more about Government’s 3D Seismic Survey of 618 square miles offshore Barbados by global oil company BHP.
The Ministry of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, in collaboration with the company, held its fifth consultation, this time for the public, where they heard from officials about how the process would be conducted, come September.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Francine Blackman, told the virtual participants that part of the pre-planning activities involved regulatory and public consultations to give information on the exploration activities and to garner feedback on the proposed work.
She added that the discussions were fruitful and the “common thread’ that had emerged from the consultations was the need for constant communication to keep the public abreast of the activities.
“The Ministry has certainly taken note of these expressions and we are working to make sure that we can allow our partners BHP – to execute [the activities] and keep the public abreast. I certainly look forward to a very engaging session where we hear your thoughts and I am sure that we would be providing some ideas as to what we can take onboard to make the exercise one that is beneficial to both parties,” Mrs. Blackman underlined.
In the presentations, BHP’s Health Safety and Environment Manager, Sheldon Gomez, an 18-year-old veteran with the company, shared that the organisation placed safety first, for all persons involved, and was very committed to protecting the environment.
He further stated that the company’s operations were “above board” adding that “we do what is right for our stakeholders and we commit to doing what we say we will do”.
Mr. Gomez said the company respected everyone’s opinions; achieved superior business results, and accepted responsibility for delivering on commitments by facing situations head-on.
Outlining BHP’s track record in the region, the company’s Caribbean Exploration Manager Steve O’Hara revealed that the company had achieved the “remarkable” milestone of 25 years of safe operations, having safely drilled 82 wells since starting operations in 1996.
He said, during this process, the company acquired state-of-the-art high-quality 3D seismic data over a vast area which “formed the basis of our interpretations, geologic models, interpretation and ideas, all guiding our drilling decisions”.
Mr. O’Hara added: “We want you to know that we are proud of the fact that BHP has been safely working and committed to the Caribbean for 25 years, and we look forward to extending our knowledge and safe operations in Barbados.”
Head of Seismic Operations at BHP, David Lippett, and Seismic Superintendent, Keri Nicholas, who will be responsible for the operations here, gave an overview of the seismic survey to be conducted from September.
He explained that the survey would be conducted in the two blocks awarded, Carlisle Bay and Bimshire, across 618 square miles, using 12 streamers from the seismic vessel.
Ms. Nicholas said the vessel and the survey fleet are expected to arrive early and notices detailing a five-day outlook for the vessel’s operations would be issued to mariners.
During the question and answer segment, the issues raised were concerns about an oil spill, safe operations in a COVID-19 environment and protecting marine life.
Regarding the handling of marine pollution and spills, Principal Environmental Specialist, Dr. Fil Santiago, said it was highly unlikely that there would be a spill since the survey does not involve transporting of oil, and the only issue likely to arise was a loss of fuel from the main and two supporting vessels.
Company officials gave the assurance that the offshore survey would be conducted in observance of the COVID-19 protocols and everything would be done to preserve marine life.