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May 17, 2013

Oil contracts null and void, but Treaty Energy ‘Drill baby drill!’

In the south today, drills cranked up as Treaty Belize Energy resumed operations at its San Juan Three well. There are two areas of concern according to OCEANA; that the company is going against a court ruling in mid-April which declared null and void six oil contracts including one that Princess Petroleum shares with Treaty Belize Energy. The other is that the company is not complying with the basic protocols for environmental controls. News Five’s Isani Cayetano was on a flyover of the San Juan area and has that story.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Since announcing on May seventh that exploratory activity would resume at its San Juan Three well, Treaty Belize Energy, a subsidiary of Treaty Energy Corporation, has wasted no time in continuing its efforts to find oil in the south.  That quest, however, has raised the ire of the environmental community, not only as a result of its proximity to neighboring San Juan and Cow Pen villages, but also because of what appears to be the company’s failure to comply with standard operating procedures.  This afternoon, News Five conducted an aerial survey of the site and spoke with a former employee of Treaty Belize, who shared his concerns.


Voice of: Former Employee, Treaty Belize Energy

“That area should be screened off, fence, have security checks. I’ve seen the weather balloon, but I haven’t seen any of the orange balloon. Those are major concerns because if a H2S comes up out of that hole, people could be injured in those villagers. They should have had seminars with villagers before starting the drill.”


The exercise, as it stands, is in contravention of a recent Supreme Court ruling which nullified several concessions, including two that were granted to Princess Petroleum and Providence Energy Belize Limited.  Treaty Belize, which shares a joint venture agreement with Princess Petroleum, is forging ahead despite being directly affected by the decision.  The company’s rationale is government’s objection to the ruling, as well as advice given through legal counsel.


Audrey Matura-Shepherd

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Vice President, Oceana in Belize

“As it is, the government is already applying for a stay of execution of the injunction. Well wait for it to go through the process man; don’t get renegade like…I can’t even express the level of disappointment that I am living in this era, I am seeing it happen and it is happening with a party I once worked with and supported and we spoke about doing the right thing. And I’m actually seeing it in practice and I am seeing our leaders, our prime minister is an attorney and he knows the importance of the law. And if at that level we find people are prepared to disrespect the law, then I can’t expect the average man on the street to obey the laws. It is like we’ve become a lawless society. And we are just saying it is all going to bring money. But what is about the development is that it can’t just be that it is going to bring money. It has to be that it is going to be done in the right and proper way. We have always said that we are not against an oil industry. We are against an unregulated one, we are definitely against standards not being met and we are definitely against the provisions which talks about the quantities that we get as a country.”


Comparatively speaking, precautionary measures that have been put in place at other sites across the country differ from those that are seemingly absent from the San Juan Three well.  Maranco’s site, for instance, is complete with several fire stations in the event of gaseous combustion.  It is debatable whether those mechanisms have been installed here at San Juan Three.


Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“No EIA has ever been done and consultation with the community because had that happened of course we would have seen it. We understand that there is a so-called EIA that was quietly done but not through the EIA process that our law requires. I mean if government has actually condoned such a thing, this country should be crying out against these kinds of activities. Our own inquiries have also indicated that there is no nearby fire station; there is no fire mitigation. When you are pumping oil out of the land, gases are coming out; these things can easily ignite. Right now we are in the season where wildfires can occur easily.”


At an average depth of approximately two thousand feet, a gas leak or oil spillage can prove deadly for residents of the community.


Voice of: Former Employee

“If there’s a spill, you could build a berm and then pump into that tank from there. When there is nothing new, there is nothing you can do. The oil will just spill over to where so ever it wants to go.”


Isani Cayetano

“What is the average depth being dug in that particular area?


Voice of: Former Employee

“The first well was about eighteen hundred and then the second well was about twenty-one hundred feet.”


Isani Cayetano

“If in the wake of this exercise in the San Juan Area, it doesn’t yield what the explorers are looking for? What becomes of the sites and how hazardous or dangerous is it to residents of the nearby communities?”


Voice of: Former Employee

“Well the ponds need to be cured and then the pits need to be cured and then closed.”


The government, says Matura-Shepherd, appears to be helpless in getting a handle on the oil situation in Belize.


Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“The government has no control over the oil companies because what has really happened is that the oil companies have decided to breach a decision of the courts; the courts said that their contracts were unlawful, null and void. They are currently drilling on government land, so they can only access these lands if the government allows it or then if the government did not allow it, then it is trespass. But I think the indication is that we’ve gone into a really terrible era in which the rule of law is no longer obeyed; governments when it is convenient defy every ruling of the court and Belizeans need to see this as beyond an issue of oil. It is a dangerous era. In terms of the drilling that is going on, of course they will always claim that it is good for the economy and it is great and it is going to bring a lot of money; everybody has seen that we have not gotten a lot of money from one oil company that has been operating. But more importantly, if you are so sure it is going to be good, then why don’t you do it the proper way.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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10 Responses for “Oil contracts null and void, but Treaty Energy ‘Drill baby drill!’”

  1. Rod says:

    This pm and gov needs to be locked up belizeans wake up the time has come for you to get up off a unu dumb @$$ and we need to march and put this pm and all his ministers in jail fu thief enough is enough.

  2. Belizean says:

    I’m sick and tired of this ladys’ “Unlawful, null and void” speech. Over and over and over! Come on. It sounds like she would do a way better job at being the prime minister, an oil company or for that matter a better person than all the rest of us put together

  3. Brainless Boy says:

    ” Voice of: Former Employee, Treaty Belize Energy ”

    The news forgot to mention if he was a former employee that left in good standing or was fired from his position. IMO these are very important details to publish so the community will know if there are any ill intentions in his statement. Political groups will do anything possible in an attempt to deceive the people.
    Same as this Bad Faith BK 7 attempt to keep Treaty from suceeding. Fired employess ? Hmmmmmm

  4. Storm says:

    I’m with Matura on this one — not against development and investment, not against the oil industry. But the court has spoken here, the contract was illegal, and now it is VOID, it doesn’t exist. That means Treaty has no legal basis to drill anything, so why doesn’t GOB stop it? I’m not sure if what they are doing is criminal under our laws, BUT IT SHOULD BE, BECAUSE IT IS THEFT OF NATIONAL RESOURCES.

    I hope there’s no bribery or corruption involved!

    Why can;t the oil contracts be arrived at openly, and AFTER obeying all the environmental laws? The oil in the ground isn’t going away, it’s been there millions of years — they can take the time to obey the law. OR DON’T DO IT AT ALL.

    Matura raises another concern, why did GOB negotiate contracts that give so little profit to the people, to the national treasury?

    I’d like to see civilian protests to physically stop the drilling. IT’S OUR COUNTRY, IF WE DON’T PROTECT IT, WHO WILL?

  5. Neville says:

    Foreign homosexual NGOs invaded us to support sodomy, I wonder if any foreign environmental groups would come to support the rest of us to force the oil companies to follow the law, or leave? That’s an invasion I would support.

  6. Rod says:

    Audrey! Audrey! Audrey Matura Shepard!!! What can a court and the law do If a court rules that a contract is null and void but the 2 parties to the contract want to continue thier contractual obligations even though the contract is null and void. You can try and get an injunction but that will require some legal creativity. Otherwise this is a lacuna type of situation

  7. Elgin Martinez says:

    When will you all learn that this PM will not listen to anyone but his cronies.It’s not even like the Belizean people are going to benefit from the proceeds of this Oil contract.Keep doing your thing Audrey i would go to combat with you any day.Last but not least you would be a better PM than Barrow.They’re not going to like you because you’re going against the grain my Belizea brothers and sisters love followers not leaders.

  8. Not Normal says:

    to hell with the people, Belize politics is people will have their say and the ruling politicians will have their WAY. it is sad but the the truth,

  9. yelsin says:

    the prime minister and cronies from princess such as hamdi and the zabs down south eating all the pie and laughing str8t to the bank while we get like how a famous minista seh BUKUT wah hard 1 too….nuff said

  10. blessed says:

    drill baby…drill!

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