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 Bahamas Commentary

2003-06-18 15:45:41

Just Where Are We On LNG Pipeline?

In early May, the government said it would provisionally license two of the three companies bidding to build storage and pipeline facilities in The Bahamas within 30 days.

In the meantime, the three bidders were bound by confidentiality agreements not to promote or discuss the projects in the press. The three companies are New Jersey-based Applied Energy Services (AES); Tractebel, a Belgian energy firm that is part of a French conglomerate known as Suez; and El Paso Corp. of Texas. The benefits to The Bahamas would include jobs, economic diversification and millions of dollars a year in tax revenues.

During a burst of public discussion on the proposals in early May, BEST Commission chairman Koed Smith said the government would first decide whether to entertain the proposals, then provide for an impartial public-education forum, then solicit public input, after which a decision would be made on whether to proceed with the proposals.

We are not quite sure just where we stand in this time frame at the moment, but we noticed that ads suddenly began to appear in the newspapers promoting a joint AES, Ministry of Trade & Industry town meeting featuring broadcast talk-show hosts and BEST Commission representatives this week. But on Saturday, Ambassador Smith strongly denied any involvement in this promotional seminar.

"I regret that this notice was published, as I nor any member of the BEST Commission ever indicated and certainly never agreed with AES to (become) a co-sponsor of such a town meeting," he said emphatically.

So what is the Minister of Trade & Industry doing joining one of the three bidders in a public-relations exercise that none of the bidders are supposed to be engaging in? Why doesn't the minister organise a seminar with all three companies involved or just stay out of the matter altogether? And just where are we in this convoluted scheme of things?

Editorial, The Nassau Guardian

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