Oil could be billion-dollar business for Bahamas, says analyst

Johnson, president of Wayne Johnson International, told Guardian Business last week that tapping into the oil industry could in fact change the face of the entire region, leading to a major economic boost for the country and lowering energy costs as well.

“So when you look at that potential, it will change the face of this region in terms of us having lower energy prices that will benefit the consumer. All of the money that the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) is paying out, that will actually be eliminated. So instead of passing all that cost to the consumer, we will be able to handle our own affairs,” he explained.

Johnson said the next step should be to embark on a massive campaign that would educate Bahamians about the potential that exists in The Bahamas, and how they could benefit from this natural resource.

The controversial topic of oil exploration in The Bahamas was discussed during a recent oil forum hosted by Johnson’s company. He said that those attending the forum raised a lot of questions on the issue.

Another key component to having a thriving oil industry in The Bahamas, Johnson said, is the development of a national strategy which includes the establishment of a ministry of natural resources and energy.

“It’s where the government will have the policies and procedures in place, so that Bahamians can actually maximize the benefits from oil and natural resources, like what they have in Israel where you have a commissioner of petroleum and an assistant commissioner of petroleum. With those officials in place, you can have proper contract arrangements that can be made,” he said.

As it stands, Johnson shared with Guardian Business that The Bahamas is already at a disadvantage financially when it comes to generating revenue from oil deposits.

“According to the Petroleum Act, we will only get 12.5 percent in terms of profitability. However, throughout the region, governments are getting anywhere from 35 percent and above in terms of revenue,” he said.

He continued, “So we must ensure that we have the right policies and guidelines in place to protect us as a country, so we are able to get the maximum benefit.”

Johnson told Guardian Business that now is the time for The Bahamas to take full advantage of the opportunities offshore oil drilling has to offer. According to him, the country is missing out on potentially billions of dollars in revenue.

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