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Bahamas: GRANTED: Supreme Court grave for judicial review of exploratory oil drilling

NASSAU, BAHAMAS  — Supreme Court Justice Petra Hanna-Weekes today granted applicants leave to seek judicial review of the government’s approvals for Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) to drill an exploratory well in Bahamian waters, ruling that Save The Bays and Waterkeeper Bahamas Limited have “an arguable case”.

However, Weekes denied the applicants’ application for a stay of the ongoing drilling exercise — a process that began on December 20.

The drilling exercise is expected to be completed within 45 to 60 days of commencement and does not involve extracting any oil if found.

In court, Weekes said while the court has the discretion to order a stay, it is tantamount to an injunction and such an order should be to stay the “decision-making process and its implementation”.

She said: “…The decision-making process has been completed; the decisions have been implemented, and subsequently the joint exercise to which those decisions that were made has commenced. Therefore, to my mind, under the circumstances, there is no decision-making process to be stayed.

“I, therefore, accept the submission of Mr [Aiden] Casey, QC, is this regard. Further, as all parties have agreed this exercise is of great public importance, albeit for different reasons, I do not accept counsel for the applicant’s submission that the respondents at BPC would suffer no prejudice if such a stay was granted.”

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