Monday, April 16, 2018
By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
A FORMER Cabinet minister says it is "crying shame" that the Bahamas "missed the boat" on liquefied natural gas (LNG) 15 years ago, questioning: "Where are the critics now?"
Leslie Miller, who strongly advocated for LNG during his tenure as minister of trade and industry under the first Christie administration, hailed the recent announcement that Shell North America has been confirmed as the preferred bidder to constructing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuelled power plant at Clifton Pier to supply by Bahamas Power and Light (BPL).
Mr Miller, who has also served as chairman of BPL's parent, the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), said this nation missed a golden opportunity with LNG 15 years ago, blaming fierce opposition from those he deemed "armchair environmentalists" for dooming the AES Corporation's plans to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal on Ocean Cay near Bimini. The project would have also included a 76-mile pipeline to transport re-gasified LNG to Fort Lauderdale in southern Florida, with AES even modifying its plans to offer to supply LNG to BEC. Both Tractebel and El Paso Corporation proposed similar plans to AES, using terminals in Grand Bahama, but these were also doomed due to the absence of Bahamian regulatory approvals.
"Those who opposed it should hang their head in shame and apologise to the Bahamian people," Mr Miller blasted. "It's being done now, and once it's being done for the benefit of the Bahamian people that's all that really matters.
"Back then they tried to vilify me and said I wanted to blow up the Bahamas. Where is the outcry today? Where are the critics now? Everyone can see that LNG is the way to go. It's the cheapest form of fuel. AES lost about $20 million on that project. It's just a disgrace. That will bother me for the rest of my life. We really missed the boat on that one. We're getting it now but we're going to have to pay for it."
Mr Miller added: "When I look at this situation with LNG, everything has come full circle. I don't think I will ever get credit. It was Dr Marcus Bethel, David Davis and myself who pushed it. All the records and plans are there. It is what it is."
He added that the Bahamas lost out on millions of dollars in annual government revenues which could have gone towards areas such as education and healthcare. "It was so right for us, it was the right fit. So much work was done on that," Mr Miller said.
"There were qualified Bahamians with PHD's who dealt with that. The critics just couldn't appreciate the knowledge we had gained, and the people we had around us who had the expertise. It's a real pity."