Environmentalist Annette Arjoon has called ExxonMobil out on the evasive language it used in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) it submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Guyana.
Arjoon recently delivered a presentation on the likely environmental impacts of oil production. This was at an oil and gas seminar held by the Private Sector Commission (PSC).
Arjoon touched on the devastating effects that an oil spill can have on Guyana. She also pointed out that there seems to be no adequate preparedness for such an eventuality.
As she spoke, Arjoon acknowledged the presence of ExxonMobil’s Senior Director, Kimberly Brasington at the forum.
Arjoon said, “I am thankful that Kimberly is in the room, thank you for not running away. We often speak about fit for purpose. Let us ensure that the oil response plan from your company is fit for purpose and is tailored to the local conditions of Shell Beach (the area in Region One most likely to be affected in the event of an oil spill.)
Arjoon continued, “When I looked at the Environmental Impact Assessment, which was in my opinion rushed, for the Liza Phase One, I saw the very vague terminology. ExxonMobil spoke of what may be
carried out or can be carried out.”
Arjoon said that she wishes for ExxonMobil to do away with that sort of language that avoids commitment. She said, “I want to see what will be carried out. I want to hear we will do that…So I will ask, Kimberly, that your company looks at updating the response plan to deal with these deficiencies.”
Arjoon said that even with all the deficiencies in the EIA submitted by ExxonMobil, it is further saddening that Guyana does not even have a national contingency oil plan.
“Imagine two years ago when Sargassum washed up on our shores and we couldn’t do anything about it. We lost so much income as fishermen struggled to get the Sargassum off of their nets. Are we prepared to deal with an oil spill?”
Arjoon also noted that just recently, a mysterious substance washed up behind the Marriott, and the nation is yet to hear what it is or where it came from. She then asked again, “Are we ready for an oil spill?”
The environmentalist said that Guyana needs a mechanism for immediate release of technical and financial resources to mitigate effects of oil spills. She said that in that regard an environmental fund can be useful.
Arjoon said that in the absence of all that is needed, Guyana should reconsider its rate of production.
“Companies should not be determining extraction rates for us. We need to ensure that the development of our oil and gas industry does not outstrip the capacity of our institutions. I know that you (ExxonMobil) have shareholders’ interest to look after, and I know that it works well for you when institutional capacities are not as robust as they ought to be, but l think that you are capable of committing to real environmental stewardship and ensuring that we look at this reality here. If we cannot even identify a little pollution behind Marriott, are we ready to produce 500,000 barrels of oil per day?”
Photo saved as: Arjoon
Photo saved as: Henson
Caption: ExxonMobil’s Country Manager, Rod Henson
Photo saved as: Brasington
Caption: ExxonMobil’s Senior Director Kimberly Brasington
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