Mar 29, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – The Guyanese led Oil & Gas Governance Network (OGGN) has written to influential Barbadian leader, Prime Minister Mia Mottley, seeking her intervention in heightening Caribbean leaders’ concern over oil and gas operations in Guyana.
The US-based group is adamant that given the limited capacity of regulatory bodies to exercise oversight in the local oil and gas sector, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) should be paying more interest, given the environmental threat that ExxonMobil’s oil operations pose to the entire bloc.
OGGN said that Guyana’s massive offshore oil reserves have introduced new and existing issues relating to fossil fuel exploration and their relationship to climate heating. The body noted that in the lead up to the Paris Agreement of 2016, Guyana and CARICOM had argued for a sustainable path and called to end industrial activities that would push temperature increase beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius.
However, the oil reserves in Guyana have brought on a more urgent concern for CARICOM, OGGN said. The non-governmental organization (NGO) noted that the subsea drilling for exploration and extraction wells in Guyana extends two miles, beneath a mile of water with 158 wells expected to be drilled by 2030.
Researchers, they claimed, have expressed worry that Exxon’s operations may lack the appropriate preparation or planning to head off a deepwater blowout and major oil spill.
While various experts and researchers within the oil and gas arena have repeated concerns on Exxon’s operations, OGGN said that there seem to be little advances in avoidance, control and mitigation methods for oil spills in the following decade.
The NGO pointed out that based on documents reviewed by Robert Bea, one of the world’s foremost forensic engineers’, he has expressed concern that Exxon has not kept the risks of a blowout or oil spill as low as “reasonably practicable”.
OGGN has thus urged the Barbadian PM to rally CARICOM leaders in assessing the danger behind Exxon’s operation. “We urge you to take the lead in convening CARICOM leaders and experts in assessing the scale, intensity and risks posed to the entire Caribbean by the reckless pace of oil exploration and production taking place in Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).”
OGGN noted too that for the past four years, Guyanese and global citizens have detailed the one-sided nature of the 2016 Petroleum Agreement signed by the Government of Guyana, but are unable to get the necessary responses. They said that during the recent International Energy Conference and Expo, which Mottley had also attended, there was an absence of opportunities for interaction between the oil companies, their contractors and civil society; following a pattern that Exxon and its Environmental Impact Assessment contractor, do not answer questions from civil society but engage only with high levels in government.
“Honourable Prime Minister, we appeal to you, cognizant of your special relationship with the Government of Guyana. We hope that you will urge the governments of CARICOM to evaluate the scale, intensity and risks posed to the entire Caribbean by the ongoing high velocity oil exploration and production in Guyana’s EEZ.”
The NGO related that so far, a map prepared by ERM, the consultancy firm doing Exxon’s Environmental Impact Assessments in Guyana has shown that northwestern currents of the Guyana territorial sea would push even a small oil spill to the southern Jamaican coast. “Even a small oil spill would despoil the Caribbean Sea and threaten the livelihoods of fishers and the tourism industry, not to mention the harms to marine life and ecosystems,” OGGN insisted.
They said that its hopes is that an assessment of, “the deeply inequitable and neo-colonial arrangements” between the Government of Guyana and petroleum companies will also be assessed in which the public wealth of Guyana is privatised and negative environmental harms to both Guyana and the Caribbean are socialised.
The OGGN letter was signed by activists Alfred Bhulai, Janette Bulkan, Dennis Henry, Jerry Jaillal, Darshanand Khusial, Mike Persaud, Joe Persaud, Ganga Ramdas and Charles Sugrim.
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