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Jan 12, 2018

Oil Moratorium Officially in Effect

It is now illegal to explore for or exploit potential petroleum deposits in the maritime zone of Belize. Following the passage of the Petroleum Operations (Maritime Zone Moratorium) Act, 2017 in the House of Representatives on December eighth and the Senate five days later, the Governor General made the formal enactment on December twenty-ninth. The new law imposes an indefinite moratorium on any kind of petroleum operation within the maritime corridor, particularly around the Barrier Reef and in and near protected areas. In the Senate, former Minister of Natural Resources Senator Godwin Hulse, echoed by de facto successor Carla Barnett, indicated that no agreements have been signed or are in effect for petroleum concessions. As Prime Minister Dean Barrow noted, the penalties imposed under law are fairly stiff: violations by individuals carry a penalty of two hundred thousand dollars in fines and five years’ imprisonment and for corporations and other entities, a fine not exceeding three million dollars.

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