Feb 20, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – It has been over a year since Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) failed to provide Guyana with a formal agreement, which states that its parent company, ExxonMobil, would accept liability should any oil disaster occur in the Stabroek Block. It has also failed to provide similar proof of agreement from the parent companies of Hess Guyana Exploration Limited and CNOOC/NEXEN Petroleum Guyana Limited, the two other partners on the Stabroek concession.
The fact that so much time has elapsed without this formal guarantee sets a worrying trend for Guyana’s future says Dr. Vincent Adams, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The operator of the Stabroek Block, EEPGL, he explained is known as a limited liability company, carrying little assets that would be able compensate for a major disaster that extends to Guyana’s shores. He said this leaves Guyana exposed and running the risk of acquiring massive debt to compensate for the damage for decades.
It was Dr. Adams who had ensured that the Liza Phase Two environmental permit handed to EEPGL included a provision committing the parent company, ExxonMobil, to accepting unlimited liability for all costs related to oil spills or any other such incident.
This was also done for the Payara environmental permit, but not for the permit for the Liza Phase One Project, which is currently producing over 100,000 barrels of oil per day. And while the EPA is now under the control of Sharifa Razack, who has the authority to amend the permit, it has made no move to do so, leaving Guyana at further risk.
Dr. Adams even went a step further to ensure Guyana was protected by ensuring that the provision in all other permits regarding exploratory work in the basin.
He continued, “They threatened me to bring in the President or whatever but I really did not care. I knew that we had the leverage, that they could not pump a barrel of oil until they agreed that they were going to transfer that liability to the parent corporation. I got them to write that into the permit.”
However, what the EPA allowed EEPGL was time to formally agree to the provision in the permit. And that is what led to the situation now where the company still has not provided assurance of agreement, Dr. Adams relayed.
“Nobody in the world has ever obtained that before and it has been over a year now and they have not provided the signed document from the parent company saying that they are going to do it…,” he said.
Dr. Adams added that answers need to be demanded from both Exxon and the government as to why such a critical element meant to protect Guyana has not been finalized.
“The BP spill in the Gulf is running close to US$70 billion dollars, the whole of Guyana cannot afford something like that so we need to know what is going on,” he lamented.
Clarification on this matter was sought from EEPGL’s Government and Public Affairs Advisor, Janelle Persaud, but up to press time, no answer was received.
At his most recent press engagement, the Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo, was asked to say if he secured the formal agreement from the parent companies. While he agreed that Exxon and its partners should be the ones accepting liability for such disasters, he admitted too that the current administration has received no commitment from the company detailing this.
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