By Benjamin Flowers
The Sarstoon Temash Institute of Indigenous Management (SATIIM) is calling for the Government of Belize to properly refine its oil exploration policy before taking any other action.
SATIIM issued a release this week, responding to GOB’s request for feedback on the draft Petroleum Exploration Zones and Exploration Guidelines, prepared by the Geology and Petroleum Department, calling for the creation of a comprehensive policy on sustainable development.
“With the price of oil at their lowest, oil exploration projects are being put on hold all over the world – what’s the rush in Belize?” asked Froyla Tzalam, SATIIM Executive Director.
Tzalam underscored SATIIM’s experience with oil drilling in southern Toledo, highlighting that frameworks do not enforce oversight, compliance and monitoring of the various departments involved.
SATIIM is asking the GOB to delay its meeting on a “framework to harmonize guidelines”, saying that the process is rushed, and should not take place before there is a comprehensive, coherent sustainable development policy.
“We are calling instead for a meeting with all relevant ministries, from the environment and tourism to lands and energy, with civil society to come up with a single document we can all agree on,” Tzalam added.
The government has been working, through the Geology and Petroleum Department in the Ministry of Energy Science and Technology and Public Utilities, on the guidelines since 2011.