Six Offshore Oil Contracts Cancelled in Belize

April 17, 2013

Dear Friends,

Belize Barrier Reef
 Belize Barrier Reef

ELAW partner and Oceana Attorney Audrey Matura has won a groundbreaking victory protecting the Belize Barrier Reef, the Laughing Bird Caye National Park, and Half Moon Caye Natural Monument from reckless oil development. Yesterday, a judge handed down a decision declaring six offshore oil contracts null and void.

The reason? In 2004 and 2007, the Belizean government issued contracts to oil companies without requiring Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). The judge found that "allowing oil exploration before any assessment of its effects on the environment is not only irresponsible, but reckless, especially in a situation where Belize may not be fully capable of handling effectively an oil spill."

In addition, the judge found that the government violated the Petroleum Act by awarding the contracts without requiring the oil companies to demonstrate their ability to successfully carry out the contracts.

ELAW provided legal support to Audrey and the legal team representing Oceana, COLA, and the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage in the court challenge.

Congratulations to Audrey for great work protecting critical marine ecosystems and the communities that depend on them!


Lori Maddox
Associate Director
Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide

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