Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Oceana speaks out at Satiim oil summit

Press Release - Oceana - March 8, 2011 - Oceana has once again sounded the alarm on the legal issues governing Belize’s Oil and Petroleum Industry, at the Satiim Oil Summit held in Punta Gorda Town on February, 8th, 2011.

Mrs. Audrey Matura – Shepherd, VP of Oceana Belize, presented on the inadequacies in current legal structures which control Belize’s fledgling oil industry. She spoke to an attentive audience, comprised of major local and international environmental and human rights organizations, explaining how Belize’s weak petroleum laws could allow for abuse of property and citizens rights.
In her presentation, she exposed how oil companies have extreme power via the current laws over individual property rights, and showed how the terms of their contracts were not being properly followed. The audience became seriously concerned over her demonstration of the accepted royalty rates our country is receiving, and were disturbed by the power given to Ministers to issue contracts at their discretion.
Mrs. Shepherd also gave assurance of Oceana’s full support to Mr. Leonard Reimer from the Spanish Lookout Community and Mr. John Carr of the Belize Landowners Association, who in their own presentations voiced a determination to bring their challenges in dealing with the oil companies and the government to the public front.

The objectives of the Satiim Oil Summit were to increase awareness and stimulate activism among civil society and within indigenous communities in the Toledo District, regarding the threats posed by oil development to the environment and human rights; and to build a coalition of local and national civil society actors to actively put pressure on government officials to reevaluate their stance on oil development within fragile, critical ecosystems, including offshore and in protected areas, while promoting policies that entail sustainable development, respect for human rights and environmental conservation.

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