Jan 09, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – Although House Speaker Manzoor Nadir is yet to allow discussions on the controversial gas-to-shore project in the National Assembly, the Coalition Party has noted that it is curious to know whether the oil money in the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) will finance the venture.
Speaking on behalf of the Party, Shadow Oil and Gas Minister, David Patterson yesterday told this newspaper that the government must come clean with this information.
He said, “with the rush, you know how they rushed it (the NRF Bill) to passing and signing the Bill and then of course the very next day Ashni Singh writes to activate the Fund, we know of course that they want to use some of this money or a majority of it to complete the gas-to-shore project.”
The proposed project is pegged at US$900 million and at the end of November 2021, some US$534 million was sitting in the NRF. Patterson, a former Infrastructure Minister, explained that it is very concerning that the Speaker has not yet responded to his Motion, which was submitted since October last year.
“It is quite concerning because normally when you submit a Motion, if it offends anything, the Speaker would tell you and it has been two and a half months that I have been writing and calling and going in and trying to find out why not,” the Member of Parliament (MP) reasoned.
He added, “There’s no ground for him to even refuse it so I can’t see what is (causing) the delay. They haven’t even said a word and then he says that he is a neutral Speaker and I don’t think in my Parliamentary period I have ever heard about a Motion taking 73 days to be approved.”
It must be noted that even though Patterson is contending that the Speaker has not yet approved his Motion, the Speaker had responded to his request for information on the gas-to-shore project.
In fact the Speaker had written to him indicating that several aspects of his Motion were thrown out and that he is not obligated to explain why. One such omitted clause, was seeking discussions on gas leakages and exposures in the marine environment, which have shown to be highly toxic to fish, and living organisms and the ecology, which could devastate the fishing industry.
Another of the omitted clause from the motion had indicated that “whereas determined in a March 2021 United States Bureau of Environmental Enforcement (US Offshore oil and gas regulator) comprehensive report, that the technology is not matured and reliable enough to ensure the integrity of deep-water pipelines and detection of subsurface leaks.”
Yet another omitted clause, sought discussions on the proposed Wales facility—located at the mouth of the Demerara River, which has a very shallow draft and where 90 percent of the commercial marine traffic operates, as was pointed out by the former Minister of Infrastructure.
Patterson warned that the NRF would be abused if used to fund the “white elephant” project. Moreover, he argued, “There were no (feasibility) studies. We (the Opposition) don’t have any oversight whatsoever. We don’t even know of the ownership… so they will be using the NRF to fund this white elephant project, with their own persons in charge with no oversight whatsoever and it is of great concern to us.”
Patterson on Saturday wrote the Speaker, requesting an update on the Motion submitted by him. In the document seen by this publication, the former Minister said, “I am seeking an update on my Motion on the gas-to-shore Project, which was submitted to the Parliament since October 27, 2021. Seventy-three (73) days after submission, this Motion is yet to obtain your approval or disapproval.”
He reminded the Speaker of his own words which were, “it is my duty as Speaker of the National Assembly to ensure that the business of the National Assembly is conducted in a fair, transparent, and orderly manner and this I will do to the end of my tenure.”
In this regard, the Opposition MP stated his expectation of the motion being approved in the shortest possible time, in accordance with the principles of fairness, transparency, and good order.
The Opposition and as civil society members have publicly denounced the US$900 million energy project, which government claims will not only add electricity to national grid, but also reduce the associated costs, among others things.
Analysts had called for a feasibility study to be conducted but Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has already concluded it’s a “no-brainer”.
Financial feasibility studies are considered crucial elements when one is considering a large-scale business venture. A feasibility study examines how much start-up capital is needed, sources of capital, returns on investment, and other financial considerations, while also examining how much cash is required, where it will come from, how it will be spent and potential obstacles that may impede its operations.
Yet for Guyana’s intended gas-to-shore project, no such study is being conducted.
This newspaper understands that some 30 companies have already expressed interest in the project, which has been dubbed as one of the largest infrastructural venture to date.
Under the revised scope of works, the government says it intends to build, “combined cycle turbines, multiple fuel consumption (including rich and lean natural gas [per specification to be provided upon request], Natural gas liquids and diesel) Power Plant to generate up to 300MW of power with a net 250MW delivered into the Guyana Power and Light grid at a substation located on the East Bank of Demerara.”
Additionally, the project will include 230 Kilo Volt (KV) substation and back up fuel capacity.
As it relates to the NGL Plant, this is expected, under the revised scope of works, to be able to process 60 million cubic feet of natural gas per day in the first phase and up to 250 million cubic feet of gas in the second phase.
Additionally, the plant must be capable of conditioning the gas (dehydration and mercury removal) and removing heavier hydrocarbons (propane, butane, pentane plus) in liquid form.
The project, according to the Ministry, will be located at Hermitage, identified as part of the Wales Development Zone with some 150 acres of land allocated for its purpose.
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