Jul 31, 2021 Letters
Much attention is currently focused on the gas-to-shore project thanks to the EPA meetings through which some, not much, information on the project has been forthcoming, though generating more questions than answers, and showing up deliberate attempts to not provide information being requested with some officials getting “hot under the collar.”
What is clearly evident is that this project is a cook up between the Government and Exxon with little transparency on feasibility studies, site selection, who is being contracted for various studies, the costs, the selection process, the amount of gas, the commercial terms, etc. More and more questions are emerging and less and less answers being provided. It is clear that this project is set to follow the similar patterns of the Skeldon Sugar Factory, Amaila Falls Hydro and Berbice Bridge – especially considering the same players are involved.
However, while the gas-to-shore project is occupying everyone’s attention, Exxon continues production at full speed – and continues to flare gas. Much has been said about this, to the point where we have become blue in the face, and yet nothing has been done by Exxon and by the government. From day one of production in December 2019, to now, Exxon has been flaring tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere very little effort or plan to address this. There has been a litany of excuses and promises on fixing the “compressor” but little results to show for it. It is clear that there is no commitment on the part of Exxon to have this addressed, especially if they can continue to get away with flaring. While there was much song and dance about the EPA instituting a fee/fine for flaring and Exxon having to pay, it is really a perverse arrangement where Exxon is being let off the hook and allowed to pay to pollute. In other words, buy its way out of a regulatory permit condition and continue to operate. If this isn’t eye pass what is? So much for the government’s “low carbon” development strategy, which, with all this flaring, is nothing but hot air?
What is worrying however is the silence from the environmental groups, especially the international ones such as WWF, Conservation International and Iwokrama. Normally vocal on environmental issues, especially on issues with mining and forestry and conservation, etc., they have all been strangely silent on this travesty of flaring which continues to take place. Perhaps they have been bought into silence since many of them are receiving funding from Exxon for “conservation work” which in essence is Exxon again buying its way out through green washing. When Guyana received from Exxon US$18 million “signing bonus,” Exxon gave Conservational International US$10 million for “conservation work.” Very little has been heard of since regarding these funds. Can Conservation International say what they have done with these funds? The lone champion conservationist fighting against Exxon has been Ms. Annette Arjoon and her organisation – the Guyana Marine Conservation Society. Kudos to her, she is a true champion of the earth and is perhaps doing it all with little resources.
Exxon, it would seem, has bought our politicians, our private sector and it appears our big conservation organisations. Guyana has lost its soul to oil money and we are truly citizens in Exxon’s Guyana. However, there is hope through persons like Ms. Annette. Hopefully more of Guyana can support and join her.
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