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Offshore Oil drilling, Belize


Description

Since 2010, the government of Belize is granting oil concessions without carrying out any consultation with local communities. An example is the Sarstoon-Temash National Park case, which is affecting Mayan and Garifuna communities.

Also in 2010, the government decided to allow offshore oil drilling without consulting local fishermen nor the tourism sector (which are the two economic activities that will possibly be most affected by oil extraction).

In 2011, Oceana, an environmental advocacy group dedicated to the protection of the sea around the world, collected 20,000 signatures (5% of the Belizean population) to trigger a national referendum that would allow the public to vote on whether or not to allow offshore oil drilling.

According to OCEANA, even in the exploration phase, any accident that might occur could negatively impact the fishing and the tourism industry, which are the main economic activities of Belize. Exploratory drilling can introduce mud into ecosystems, while seismic testing can disrupt dolphin communication and foraging via sonar. The same year, the Belizean Government disqualified Oceana´s initiative by invalidating over 8,000 signatures, thereby stopping the possibility of a official referendum. In response to that, Oceana, the Belize Coalition to Save Our National Heritage and Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action organized a unofficial “People’s Referendum” on the 29th of February 2012, in which 90% of the Belizeans voted against offshore exploration and drilling. This was also the first time in the history of Belize that a popular consultation took place on this issue. After knowing the results of the consultation, organizations called for a complete moratorium on any offshore oil exploration in Belizean territorial waters.

In 2013, Belize’s Supreme Court declared offshore drilling contracts issued by the Government of Belize in 2004 and 2007 invalid, because no Environmental Impact Assessment had been carried out. In 2015, the government of Belize reconsidered initiating offshore drilling. Concessions to be granted will include areas such as the Great Blue Hole, which is part of the Belizean Barrier Reef Reserve System that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. According to Oceana, possible new regulations – the government issued a new draft for petroleum exploration - would allow oil and gas exploration in 99% of Belize’s territorial waters. However, so far no exploration concession have been issued.

Basic Data

NameOffshore Oil drilling, Belize
CountryBelize
Province70 kilometres off the coast of Belize
SiteBlue Hole
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Other
Specific CommoditiesCrude oil

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsOffshore Drilling Concessions in Belice. No more details were fund.
Project Area (in hectares)unknown
Level of Investment (in USD)unknown
Type of PopulationUnknown
Potential Affected Population50,000
Start Date2011
Company Names or State EnterprisesPrince Petroleum from United Kingdom - owner
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MNRE), Ministry of Energy, Science and Technology and Public Utilities (MESTPU), Belize National Energy (BNE), Supreme Court, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation.
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersOCEANA, The Belize Coalition to Save Our National Heritage, Liberty and Action, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA),

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Informal workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Mayan and Garifuna communities
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Referendum other local consultations
Arguments for the rights of mother nature

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Noise pollution
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Oil spills
OtherPotential: exploratory drilling can introduce mud into ecosystems, while seismic testing can disrupt dolphin communication and foraging via sonar
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Deaths
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place

Outcome

Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
Moratoria
Withdrawal of company/investment
Project temporarily suspended
Development of AlternativesTo continue with the fishing industry and the tourism industry.
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.In 2012 a Popular Referendum in Belice said No to the offshore oil drilling. As well, in 2013 the Supreme Court of Belize ruled that all offshore oil contracts issued are null and void. And there is a moratoria for the offshore drilling.

Sources and Materials

Links

Over 29,000 vote in Oceana’s Referendum
http://edition.channel5belize.com/archives/67646

Offshore drilling moratorium remains, but for how long?
http://amandala.com.bz/news/offshore-drilling-moratorium-remains-long/

Belize Drops Proposal for Offshore Oil Drilling on World’s Second Largest Barrier Reef
https://news.vice.com/article/belize-drops-proposal-for-offshore-oil-drilling-on-worlds-second-largest-barrier-reef

GOVERNMENT OF BELIZE WITHDRAWS APPEAL AGAINST LEGAL RULING THAT OIL CONCESSIONS ARE NULL AND VOID
http://belize.oceana.org/press-center/press-releases/government-belize-withdraws-appeal-against-legal-ruling-oil-concessions

Petroleum Department’s proposed policy on offshore oil weak on data, details, potential damage
http://belize.oceana.org/press-center/press-releases/petroleum-department%E2%80%99s-proposed-policy-offshore-oil-weak-data-details

Results Of the People's Referendum Show Belizeans Are Against Offshore Drilling
http://www.ctv3belizenews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1417%3Aresults-of-the-peoples-referendum-show-belizeans-are-against-offshore-drilling&Itemid=108

"People's Referendum" A Success
http://7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=21892

Belize Supreme Court: Belize Gov Offshore Oil Contracts Null And Void
http://www.belize.com/oil-exploration-in-belize

Media Links

Belize: Between Oil and Tourism
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/slideshow/2012/03/07/belize-between-oil-and-tourism/?intcmp=related#slide=6

Voice of the People (Oil Exploration in Belize Referendum)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jU-3Dkn769k

Oceana-Belize says continue discussion on offshore oil exploration
http://www.breakingbelizenews.com/2015/01/26/oceana-belize-continue-discussion-offshore-oil-exploration/

OFFSHORE OIL PROTECTING BELIZE’S NATURAL RESOURCES FROM ABUSE
http://belize.oceana.org/our-campaigns/offshore_oil/campaign

Other Documents

Referendum
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Belize_1.jpg

Oil and Water don´t Mix Referendum´s day
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Belize_6.jpg

The Blue Hole
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Blue_Hole_1Belize.jpg

Referendum results
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/OCEANA0005-300x225.jpg

Meta Information

ContributorGrettel Navas, Fundación Neotrópica
Last update28/07/2015

Images

 

Referendum

 

Oil and Water don´t Mix

Referendum´s day

The Blue Hole

 

Referendum results