Status Update on Oceana’s Offshore Oil Referendum Petition in Belize
In June, Oceana Belize delivered over twenty-thousand signatures to the Governor General of Belize Dame Froyla Tzalam, aimed at triggering a national referendum on offshore oil activity. However, nearly three months later, the referendum is no closer to materializing. The signatures have not been certified by the Chief Elections Officer, and the Attorney General was reportedly awaiting legal advice on the matter. Today we asked Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change, and Disaster Risk Management Orlando Habet to give us an update on the petition, but he said that he had nothing to report. He did, however, share updates from the oil industry with respect to inland exploration. Here’s what he had to say.
Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management: “I think the position of the government remains the same. I think that government looking at right now we have a moratorium on offshore drilling but also there is no moratorium on land drilling, on terrestrial drilling. So that’s still in process. What we have to look at will be the location because I think the one site that’s being looked at is still down south but we also have the advent of the court handed down issue with the indigenous Mayan rights and so in terms of customary land rights and everything else, we have established an FPIC protocol and so that will have to be carried over and carried through so that then you can get that consultation with those communities and see how it goes from there. As of now, I don’t think there is much of a problem. I think all the communities who have been consulted are in approval. I think there was one Midway who was still reluctant in giving their go ahead.”