Apr 11, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published new guidelines for conducting and reviewing Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for large scale projects to be undertaken in Guyana—particularly targeting the emerging Oil and Gas and Renewable Energy sectors.
According to the new guidelines—since posted on the EPA’s website—the update consists of a generic manual and standalone annexes, for the offshore upstream hydrocarbons, power, forestry, and mining sectors.
The EPA, in publishing its ‘New Rules and Procedures for Conducting and Reviewing Environmental Impact Assessments’ said, “the emerging oil and gas sector and potential for introduction of associated downstream industries suggests major economic opportunities.”
This while at “the same time present(ing) a challenge for pollution control regulators, resource managers, environmental civil society organisations and those potentially affected by these new types of industries.”
According to the EPA, the new guidelines address seven sectors specifically and address climate vulnerability, international treaties, opportunities for renewable energy and the emerging petroleum sector: “With these gaps being filled, the EPA should now be able to assess more accurately new and complex projects and monitor and mitigate their social and environmental impacts.”
Additionally, the updated guidelines will now be able to meet international best practices for EIA conduct, preparation and review, the EPA said. According to the document, the EPA in 2017 began developing draft EIA Guidelines for Offshore Oil Exploration and Production and that these were intended to cover all stages of off-shore hydrocarbon development.
The guidelines developed cover the exploration phase and covers areas such as seismic surveys and exploration drilling. Additionally, the new guidelines cater for oil project development, including delineation drilling, site development, servicing, operations and closure. These, the report noted, were never completed.
In 2019, the EPA had also developed a draft EIA screening criteria, for identifying general and specific circumstances in which proposed projects would be subject to an EIA. According to the EPA, these criteria were designed as a tool to distinguish between projects whose anticipated impacts are not likely to be significant and those projects whose anticipated impacts are likely to be significant and hence, would be required to undergo an EIA.
The EPA said that in 2020, the agency also developed a numerical screening tool, using environmental and social criteria, to facilitate the process for determining impact significance and when to proceed with an EIA.
It has since noted that the economic, social and technological landscape of Guyana has changed significantly since the Act was established and as such, the guidelines were reviewed.
It is in this context the report underscored that the emerging oil and gas sector and the potential for introduction of associated downstream industries suggests major economic opportunities, while at the same time presenting challenges for pollution control regulators, resource managers, environmental civil society organisations and those potentially affected by these new types of industries.
To address these challenges, the EPA said it reviewed international standards and best practice procedures for conducting EIAs and the EIA requirements of the International Finance
Corporation (IFC-World Bank Group) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The new EIA Guidelines, according to the EPA are an update of existing rules and procedures for
permitting the development, implementation, and operation of projects.
Additionally, sector guidelines for mining, forestry, electricity generation including thermal and hydropower and electricity transmission have been updated and consolidated in the annexes of the 2020 EIA Guidelines.
Among the significant developments that led to the promulgation of the updated guidelines, the EPA in its new document noted that, “in 2000, then subsequently in 2004, following the amendment of the Guyana Environmental Protection Act (1996), the EPA prepared a manual providing guidance for the conduct, preparation and review of EIAs.”
Those guidelines, it said, included general and sector specific rules and procedures for conducting, preparing and reviewing EIAs.
“From 2000 to now, the economic, social, technological and physical landscape of Guyana has changed significantly… Consequently, those guidelines became obsolete and required updating,” the EPA said.
The EPA said the intention of the 2020 Guidelines is to provide the Agency, the Environmental Assessment Board, Sector Agencies, Developers, the Private Sector, non-Governmental Organizations, Members of the Public and Consultants and any other stakeholders, a set of approved guidelines for the conduct and review of ESIAs in Guyana
Reflected in the approved guidelines, the EPA said, are the key guiding principles for environmental management in Guyana, which are described in the Environmental Protection Act.
These five principles the EPA said, includes polluter pay principle where the polluter should bear the cost of the measures to reduce and remediate pollution decided upon by public authorities to ensure that the environment is in an acceptable state and should compensate citizens for any harm they suffer from pollution.
Additionally, the new guidelines embrace the precautionary principle, provisions for strict liability, avoidance and others including those guiding the use of technology.
Financial assistance was provided from the World Wildlife Fund and the Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment to hire consultants to update and develop the new guidelines. The Oil and Gas Guidelines were developed with the EPA through a consultancy by Dr. Heike Pflasterer of ECONCEPT, Germany.
Exxon has to put up a sign board across the Demerara Harbour Bridge to tell Guyanese what % of revenue we are getting from the Stabroek Block!
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