The Belize government says it has not reached any agreement for seismic surveys for oil exploration in offshore areas, even though the international company Oceana has said it will start collecting the signatures needed to trigger a national referendum. .
In a press release, the government says it has made “unprecedented progress in positioning its natural capital in its overall vision for the economic recovery and growth of our country.
“Consistent with Plan Belize and its mandate to ensure the responsible use of its natural capital to achieve its economic, social and environmental objectives, the government will continue to approach its natural capital resources responsibly and wisely,” added the government.
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But in a press release Oceania says it has begun collecting the signatures needed to call a nationwide referendum, Oceana Vice President Janelle Chanona said the company made the decision as a result of a conversation held on September 9, 2022, with Prime Minister John Briceño “during which he confirmed his administration’s intention to conduct seismic testing in Belizean waters without prior public approval to lift the moratorium against offshore oil exploration and exploitation
“Given the years of support against offshore oil and the level of public outcry in 2016 in response to seismic vessels being secretly allowed to begin work, we are confident this is an issue on which Belizeans want to be consulted before any change in the current policy stance on offshore oil,” Chanona said, adding that “the only reason to collect seismic data is to proceed with oil production.”
But in its statement, the Briceño government said during the September 9 meeting that “the Prime Minister, among others, discussed the issue of seismic studies and the existing moratorium with Oceana.
“In line with his commitment to environmental and social principles, the Prime Minister reiterated the need to understand the extent of Belize’s offshore non-renewable economic resources in order to have an informed strategy on their potential for exploitation.
“Oceana’s statements at the press conference … are unfortunate, especially given his accessibility to the offices of this administration at the highest level for an open and transparent discourse in order to have a clear and unified approach to this issue and of all matters of mutual and national interest,” the statement added.
Oceana, which said it has won more than 225 victories and protected more than 4.5 million square miles of ocean since its formation in 1999, said the Petroleum Operations (Maritime Zone Moratorium) Act 2017 prevents exploration and exploitation of oil and other petroleum operations in the maritime zone of Belize and provides penalties and fines for persons and/or legal persons who violate the law.
. government Belize denies having concluded agreement for oil exploration