May 04, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Given that Guyana is an oil-producing nation with production currently on-going in the Stabroek Block just off the coast, if a spill were to occur, Region One (Barima-Waini) would face the brunt as it is the most at risk coastal region (due to its proximity to the said Stabroek Block). This was one of the few key findings identified in a risk assessment that was presented during the Suriname-Guyana Oil Spill Prevention Conference last week.
Making the presentation was the Director-General of Guyana’s Civil Defence Commission (CDC), Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig, at the conference, which aimed to have cross-border coordination in spill prevention and response. Conducted virtually, the conference was hosted by an International Corporation named ’Hunt Petty LP,’ which promotes the achievement of policy parity in the alignment of offshore regimes and also saw the Surinamese Government and other agencies like ExxonMobil, which is currently producing oil in the Stabroek Block, contributing to the conference as well.
It was said, “The Low Coastal Plain (in which Region One is located) is the area of Guyana most at risk to the impacts of an oil spill and more particularly, an offshore spill.” It must be noted, that while Region One was preliminarily identified as the most at risk of the coastal regions due to the location of the assigned oil blocks for production, with other blocks slated for upcoming production offshore, the other coastal regions are also at risk.
Further to that, the presented risk assessment outlined that exploration and production incidents or accidents offshore Suriname, can affect the entire coast of Guyana and riverine communities. Since it is no secret that such areas also include high agriculture activity, the agricultural sector is at high risk of losses from an oil spill.
The risk assessment falls under Guyana’s National Oil Spill Contingency Plan, which Craig also elaborated on. He revealed that the plan was developed due to the increased possibility of spills as a result of exploration, production, transportation and storage of oil, gas and petroleum products within Guyana and in its exclusive economic zone.
In addition, it was stated that the contingency plan focused on ensuring that there is effective and efficient oil spill management through cooperation and collaboration among all relevant stakeholders. In fact, it was noted that the plan was developed through a participatory and consultative process that engaged as many stakeholders as possible at every stage.
Additionally, the Director-General stressed that the Regional Coordination, Planning and Intergovernmental Considerations for the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency plays a crucial role in disaster risk management in many aspects, including oil spills and their impacts. As Craig expanded on the contingency plan, he also talked about the CDC’s preparedness for several related scenarios, however, those details, he said, will be examined in a subsequent report.
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