By CHESTER ROBARDS
Guardian Staff Reporter
Government officials from The Bahamas and Cuba have agreed in principal regarding the maritime boundary between the two countries, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minster of Foreign Affairs Brent Symonette.
Symonette, on Monday, joked at a news conference at the Department of Immigration that the boundary was finally established after a long 15-year dispute. However, he said the countries maintained an amicable and diplomatic relationship throughout the process. The United Nations assisted with the process.
Establishing the maritime boundary between the countries, which goes near the Cay Sal Bank towards Inagua, was critical for oil exploration in the area.
However, the government has not yet said that it will allow drilling for oil near the Cay Sal Bank or anywhere else in The Bahamas. The government announced a drilling moratorium following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year.
The government is considering a clear policy on disaster management in the event that there is an oil spill in Bahamian waters.
Symonette said that Cabinet now has to meet and sign off on the boundary coordinates agreed on by the Bahamian and Cuban negotiating teams.
The Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) has several oil exploration licenses in Bahamian waters. Despite the drilling moratorium, BPC is optimistic that it will begin drilling in 2012.
BPC CEO Dr. Paul Crevello said recently that the company and the government are working on establishing the necessary regulations so that BPC can further its operations in the country.
“We are working towards a drilling well next year sometime,” Crevello said during a Rotary luncheon in The Bahamas in April. “We know the government is working towards getting regulations in place, both drilling regulations and spill-response contingencies. So, I think we’re both working towards a similar timeframe.”
Crevello mentioned that over $14 million had been spent by BPC on the search for oil. The company raised around $73 million in March.