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Oil Explorer sees 'Major Risk' removed

04 October 2011

Published On:Tuesday, October 04, 2011

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business

Editor

A BAHAMAS-BASED oil exploration company's incoming chief executive said yesterday's signing of an agreement determining this nation's maritime border with Cuba removed "a considerable risk" to its plans, telling Tribune Business it aimed to foster "wealth creation" in this nation.

Speaking to Tribune Business from Singapore, Simon Potter, who takes up his post as the Bahamas Petroleum Company's (BPC) head man on September 17, said the agreement between Nassau and Havana represented another "step forward in quite a long journey" that the company hopes will end in the discovery of extractable, commercially viable quantities of oil.

With four of Bahamas Petroleum Company's five granted licences on the maritime border with Cuba, determining the precise boundaries was vital to making further exploration progress in those areas. The company has also applied for a further three exploration licences with Statoil, one of which borders Cuba's maritime boundaries.

Mr Potter told Tribune Business: "We can't influence those major international decisions, but an agreement between the two governments removes a considerable uncertainty over the jurisdiction of the waters.

"It's a removal of the uncertainty, removal of the risk, that enables us to go forward." He added that yesterday's agreement effectively brought to an end an issue that had "run its course".

Mr Potter last night told Tribune Business he planned to visit the Bahamas on September 23, a natural move given its position as Bahamas Petroleum Company's forward operations post and centre of future activity.

Outlining his aim to build on the foundations left by former chief executive, Dr Paul Crevello, Mr Potter told this newspaper: "The most important aspect is growth.

"What we have to do is grow the company, grow the asset base, and have exploration and drilling results that enable us to evaluate the potential of the wells.

"The licences have tremendous potential, and what we want to do at Bahamas Petroleum Company is to definitely evaluate that."

Acknowledging that recent top-level executive changes had created some investor uncertainty, Mr Potter sought to reassure, adding: "The company is in a strong position.

"Paul grew the company well, there's an existing team in place, and it's a matter of taking those individuals and developing the company further."

The latest change was confirmed yesterday, Alan Burns, Bahamas Petroleum Company's founder and non-executive chairman, stepping down from that post due to illness, although he will stay on as president and a Board member.

He is being replaced by Adrian Collins.

Meanwhile, acknowledging the regulatory and environmental concerns created by the explosion of British Petroleum's (BP) Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, Mr Potter said the Bahamas Petroleum Company would comply with whatever laws and regulations the Government devised.

The firm, he added, would "apply the best and highest standards that we can". Asked by Tribune Business what economic impact Bahamas Petroleum Company's operations would have if it uncovered commercially viable quantities of oil, Mr Potter said this nation could look to other countries that had made such discoveries.

"It's a great opportunity for wealth creation, not just in revenues for the Government, but ancillary contracts in the Bahamas," Mr Potter told Tribune Business.

"That starts from the moment the first drilling rig goes in the water. There's support services, support vessels, logistics, catering. There are all sorts of things that ought to be supplied and maintained from the Bahamas.

"There's many opportunities for wealth creation, job creation and for the people of the Bahamas to enjoy the fruits of success that Bahamas Petroleum Company has as we go forward...... It would certainly be our intention to look at wider sharing of the wealth opportunities."