Oil giant ExxonMobil, it seems, is already getting its way in Guyana with the government accepting from the company an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) that leaves much to be desired.
The company was still granted an environmental permit.
It is a fact that petroleum products make life easier. We utilize them for many things. However, it is also a fact that finding, producing, moving, and using petroleum products can generate harm to the environment through air and water pollution.
For this reason, companies looking to drill for and produce oil are required to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
An EIA is referred to as a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, taking into account inter-related socio-economic, cultural and human-health impacts, both beneficial and adverse.
If the EIA process is successful, it identifies alternatives and mitigation measures to reduce the environmental impact of a proposed project.
In general, the benefits of EIA include better environmental planning and design of a proposal. A well-designed project can minimize risks and impacts on the environment and people, and thereby avoid associated costs of remedial treatment or compensation for damage. Ensuring compliance with environmental standards.
So hands down, EIAs are crucial. Countries around the world ensure that an EIA is satisfactory before giving the go ahead for projects. But Exxon has been given a free ride.
The company submitted an EIA that is said to be way below international standards. In fact, Kaieteur News has learnt that the document which ExxonMobil submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is even below ExxonMobil’s own standards when compared to EIAs that the company prepared to do drilling in other countries.
Further, a source at the EPA said that it is not a case where the agency did not know that Guyana is being shafted in this area. The source said that the EPA found the assessment “less than adequate” but felt obliged to grant the permit based on posture of the government on the issue.
The effects that drilling for oil and producing oil can have on the environment include dangerous methane emissions that contribute to climate change, disruption of wildlife migration routes and habitats as a result of noise pollution. Oil spills on land and offshore drilling sites, strip the environment of vegetation.
Activities can increase erosion (which could lead to landslides and flooding as happened in Chad where dozens were killed) and the opportunity for weed infestation, disturb the land’s ground surface, and seriously fragment once unspoiled wildlife habitats.
In early June, the EPA granted ExxonMobil its Environmental Permit. ExxonMobil’s Senior Director of Public and Government Affairs, Kimberly Brassington, confirmed this.
Brassington said that the Environmental Permit is for the Liza phase 1 development project.
She said, “Before a development project goes forward there are two key projects that ExxonMobil, as an operator, looks for—the first is to have the Environmental Permit and then Production Licence.”
Without the environmental permit, a production licence cannot be granted.
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