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Apr 16, 2013

OCEANA wins! Court rules offshore contracts illegal

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

OCEANA Belize and other environmental organizations have scored another major victory in the Supreme Court. They challenged the validity of six Production Sharing Agreements granted by government to individual companies for offshore oil exploration.  In 2007, concessions were exclusively awarded to Princess Petroleum, Providence Energy, Sol Oil Belize, Miles Tropical Energy, Petro Belize and Island Oil for prospecting within our territorial waters.  The legitimacy of those contracts was disputed by Oceana, who was joined by the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage, as well as Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) as interested parties.  Oceana had previously registered a judgment in its favor when Justice Oswell Legall ruled that the abovementioned organizations were able to join the case against the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment.  The case was argued by Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith under the premise that the agreements violate the Environmental Protection Act, since no environmental impact assessments were conducted prior to the issuance of the PSAs.  Secondly, a case was also made that the respective companies failed to demonstrate any ability to meet fiduciary and technical responsibilities to effectively honor the terms and conditions of the agreements.  This morning’s decision can also serve as an example for terrestrial contracts in protected areas.  News Five spoke with an elated Audrey Matura-Shepherd following the ruling.


Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Vice President, Oceana in Belize

“It is a historic day for Belize.  It’s not about Oceana, it is about for this country.  I’m hoping that this judgment will give Belizeans the strength they need to know that not everything government does that they just have to sit back and take it.  We have a judicial system and I’ve been trying to educate people about the judicial system for a long time and explain to them that democracy only works when we the people use the systems and the judiciary is a very important part of that system and independence of the judiciary is important.  And to me this ruling today is a victory for the country.  It’s a victory for democracy and it’s definitely a victory for the people of this country and especially our barrier reef that cannot speak for itself and all those beautiful fish that we take for granted will always be there but is an integral part of our cultural heritage.  So it’s a wonderful day, I’m sure you all see the excitement on our face.  It’s wonderful because we have had to tolerate personal attacks, personal threats, we’ve been undermined in many ways and while we don’t go public with it because we don’t want a red herring to distract the people from the issue to me it was worth every sacrifice we made.”

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14 Responses for “OCEANA wins! Court rules offshore contracts illegal”

  1. Nation of Izscam says:

    Soon the cabinet (rubber stamped by the legislature) will overturn the court’s foolish prying ways, and get back to its real business of government: rosewood, and Hezbollah passports by phone orders.

  2. Lift up your head says:

    I am proud of all the hard work oceana and the other organizations put in to gain a victory for all belizeans as resources from the sea benefit the poor of the country. After all it is our natural heritage. I cannot see how any oil find would have benefitted the people of belize as it never benefitted any of the villagers where I come from. I remember us begging from the trust fund of Belize Natural Energy, and not even a single drum was donated to our village. It’s all about politics and so only the politicians and their cronies would have benefitted anyway. However, one oil spill would destroy the entire Belize coast and it would have been every belizean’s problem for generations to come. Well done oceana and long live Belize.

  3. javier says:

    No you short miserable woman, Belize did not win. Its the multinationals who won. Belizeans will still be poor broke and hungry while the rich white men snorkle be the reef, sunning their buns. the average belizean will never enjoy the reef or the keys so we are preserving it for the white men, who pays matura’s salary. jump all you want but that is the reality. lone stupidness

  4. Buju says:

    If you are familair with the case you will know that the contracts were signed in 2004 and again in 2007 with the PUP was in power!
    It is amazing that Godfrey Smith was a government Minister and apart of the signing of these contracts now he is apart of the legal team with Oceana – SIMPLY AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Truth says:

    Finally, Sure hope this does not change.. Currently at the moment what is being said is some other companies have been granted offshore drilling by the Government signed and sealed since last year. The drill is to be carried out down south in a reserved area as well..

    Under the table contract … someone must look into this as well

  6. blackberry says:

    Belizeans owe Audrey Matura and Oceania a debt of gratitude. Keep up the good work. For a few dollars our politicians have made themselves little gods.

  7. Karl says:

    Javier, You, sir, is an idiot.

  8. blue eyes says:

    Oceana is working for out side billionaires , for their interest ,to keep belize poor and in ciaos . if this keep going on, might as well make the Guatemalans keep coming in and stealing the FISH, the Rose WOOD, the FARMLAND, the LEAVES, THE GOLD since Belizean cant touch the wealth God HAVE given us to help our people in these hard times. keep us poor is the minds of the rich .

  9. belizean says:

    Well said Karl

  10. ceo says:

    Javier and those that think like him must be from another plannet! Perhaps when the Lord was handing out BRAIN, he thaught the Lord said, TRAIN and because he is afraid of speed he asked for a slow one! A very good job Audry! You are blazing a trail that I hope many others follow in. Blue Eyes you sound like another dodo bird too! The problem with our country is our leaders or the lack thereof. Digging up or natural resources to get to what is below it is not the solution. Living off the land in a sustainable manner is the answer!

  11. norbert says:

    respect Audrey!… u are d First lady of our reef! our children’s children will appreciate u for dat brave move! Keep on d fight and protect our natural beauty.

  12. Seletar says:

    Blue eyes, I’m quite sure that if every drop of oil is sucked from our land, Belizeans will remain poor. If the contracts were illegal, they should be void and give no rights to anybody — that’s what illegal means.

    I’m not against all drilling, but I’m first in favor of honesty and openness in public contracts, both before and after they are signed. It’s our nation and our resources, and the public should control what happens with them, trusting our consciences and love for our children to keep us from destroying the Jewel today for a few pennies.

  13. Storm says:

    Many thanks to the good people who worked to protect the whole country from illegal contracts. If this drilling is good for the country, things can be done openly and legally.

  14. javier says:

    Karl and ceo are too blue to have a straight mind. For whom is matura working for? Look unu two bukut heads, she was given a scholarship by the UDP, and what she does? Not work for the goverment but for an international organization who messes up small countries and keeps them pristine so the white man can have fun in the sun. You think that idiots like you and matura can go jump up and down in Mexico or Venezuela talking about no drilling for oil? Get frigging real you dam PUP fanatics.

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