Jun 11, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – A motion tabled by Shadow Minister of the Petroleum Sector, David Patterson, for there to be a special land policy in place for shorebases, was defeated last night by the Peoples Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C). This was after more than seven hours of consideration.
The motion that was tabled in March proposed that a multi-agency taskforce be formed to examine a land use policy for the oil sector, and mandate that all future shorebases be state-owned, but leased to private operators.
Patterson brought the motion on the premise that there is an enormous and growing need for shorebases to service the needs of the local industry. The former Minister’s motion also highlighted the fact that the Guyana Shore Base Incorporated (GYBSI) located at Plantation ‘A’ Houston, Greater Georgetown, does not have the capacity to handle Guyanas shorebase needs, and certainly will not be able to handle the growing needs on its own.
ExxonMobil is already producing oil at the Liza Phase One operation, and has three more major projects on the way. Liza Phase Two and Payara have been approved, and are scheduled for first oil in 2022 and 2024 respectively. ExxonMobil intends to submit a field development plan (FDP) for the fourth intended development, Yellowtail-1, before the end of the year. It is expected to achieve first oil in 2025.
The former Public Infrastructure Minister said that while additional shorebases are needed, they must be developed as part of a macro-development plan, and not solely driven by the demand forces of the sector. He is of the view that the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA), the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC), and other relevant agencies should undertake a holistic land use and zoning policy, with key considerations made to facilitate industrial activities of the oil sector.
Pattersons motion also called for future onshore bases to be in the counties of Berbice and Essequibo to ensure parity in development of the oil and gas industry and the equitable development across Guyana for the benefit of all citizens.
Expounding on the importance of the motion during his presentation to the House, Patterson was keen to note that GYSBIs location is particularly problematic given that it causes daily traffic congestion on the East Bank Demerara, while adding that residents have complained about chemical spills and burns and other environmental hazards. While the APNU+AFC regime would have given its blessings for the works and subsequent expansion at GYSBI, Patterson said the consequences surely underscore why there need to be a proper land-use policy for shorebases.
The former Minister said, “These are all non-contentious requests and I cant see why the Government would not be able to support this. It is calling for a bit of order and for us to have a national development plan and for there to be zoning because right now Guyana is like the Wild West.”
Other Opposition members such as Khemraj Ramjattan and Jermaine Figueira supported the motion and urged the PPP/C to offer their support. But the Government was not at all welcoming of this motion.
In fact, the Government saw it as just another attempt by the APNU+AFC to derail development in a holistic way while deceiving the Guyanese populace that it cares.
Hammering home this point in particular for the Governments side was Senior Minister with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh. The politician called on Guyanese to pay keen attention to the fact that the APNU+AFC during its time in office had no interest in having a land policy. But now, in its current incarnation, it is painting a picture to the masses that it is genuinely interested in developing key mechanisms for the efficient management of the oil sector.
One of the key points raised by the Minister was that a special policy cannot be put together for the oil sector alone. Dr. Singh stressed that a land policy has to be done in a holistic way. In taking such a lopsided approach, the Minister said, Patterson and his Opposition colleagues by extension have illustrated their incompetence and ineptitude, hence during their time in office, one saw an extravagant excursion of “green frivolity,” where there was an obsession in painting buildings, letterheads and fences green.
Taking the foregoing, among other factors, into consideration, the Minister said that Pattersons motion was nothing but rank political opportunism. “And its motive is another flimsy attempt to delude and deceive Guyanese. Its other intention is at the center of APNU+AFCs explicit plan, which is to delay or derail development,” expressed the Minister.
After these points were made and subsequently echoed by his colleagues, the motion was put to a vote by the Speaker of the House, Manzoor Nadir. After the votes were counted, the score was 31 votes in favour and 33 against. The motion met its death at 11:39 hrs. last night.
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