Mar 31, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Before any aspect of the intended multibillion-dollar gas-to-shore project could be deemed a “no-brainer,” it is pertinent for it to be guided by the requisite studies conducted by Government and not ExxonMobil subsidiary, Esso Exploration and Production Limited (EEPGL).
At least, this is the view of Dr. Vincent Adams, Former Director of the Environmental Protection Agency. His opinion comes on the heels of the public’s mixed perception of the project since Government made the announcement.
Many have argued that Government has been moving a bit too fast and should slow down, at least until a thorough plan and proper studies are conducted, since a location was identified prior to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) being conducted.
After pressure mounted to provide answers to the many questions raised, it was Vice President (VP), Bharrat Jagdeo, who announced that four studies would be conducted – an EIA, LiDar study along with a Geotechnical and a Geophysical study.
However, what was not disclosed by him, was that it was EEPGL conducting the studies.
That detail was revealed later by the Natural Resource Minister, Vickram Bharrat.
And when concerns were raised about the economic soundness of the project, the VP said this aspect was a “no-brainer,” on the basis that it would significantly lower the cost of electricity for Guyanese.
But while this is so, Dr. Adams is of the firm view that such a major project “must” only be guided by “comprehensive mandatory studies to include the technical, economic and environmental components of the project, before it could be deemed a ‘no-brainer’.”
“In order to win the trust of the Guyanese people concerning the doubts surrounding this project, the Government must ensure that these studies are truly independent, in that they must not be conducted by EEPGL, nor any entity with a conflict of interest relationship with EEPGL,” the Former EPA Director outlined.
Not only that, Dr. Adams said, Government must ensure that there is the requisite technical capacity on its side to review and be satisfied with the soundness of the studies. Initially, the previous David Granger administration had identified the Greenfield-Mahaica area as the preferred site, but according to the VP, that idea was discarded as the land is privately owned.
In defending Government’s choice to use Wales, Jagdeo had said that it would not bring the facilities to Region Four in places such as Ogle or the East Bank of Demerara, since those areas are set for major development.
Consideration was also made to not place such a facility in close proximity to the capital city as in the past; there has been public resistance to the establishment of certain chemical facilities on the East Bank.
Government thought it best to identify areas sporting virgin lands and low population density with two locations being chosen – Crab Island and the former Wales sugar estate. The latter was then selected.
But this area, according to Dr. Adams, was never zoned designed to accommodate a sprouting of industrial complexes that have potential for severe environmental consequences – much of which Guyana has never dealt with.
He commented “During my tenure as the EPA Director, I steered many interested investors of this nature, to consider locations at the sparsely developed areas at the mouths of the Essequibo and Berbice rivers.”
For that reason, Dr. Adams advised Government to investigate these and other similar areas outside of the Georgetown area, for these developments, which are fast coming.
It should be noted that the shadow Oil and Gas Minister, David Patterson, also expressed concerns about using Wales as the site for the project. Patterson had deemed it “an act of lunacy” as it would entail placing a gas pipeline along the mouth of one of Guyana’s busiest rivers.
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