Jul 02, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – For weeks, since the opening of a 60 days ‘commenting period’ on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Gas-to-Energy project, concerns have been raised with regard to the US billion dollar venture being pursued by the Government of Guyana and oil giant, ExxonMobil, however, even though those are yet to be laid to rest, President Irfaan Ali has announced that the project will be moving ahead since these concerns have already been addressed.
The President made the announcement on Thursday at State House, where the media, the oil companies’ representatives, members of the diplomatic corps as well as those in the business community had gathered for the presentation.
Residents of the Canal Polders and Crane, on the western half of the Demerara River, had written a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), alerting the regulatory body that the project developer for the pipeline, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), a subsidiary of Exxon, had not consulted with them prior to submitting the EIA.
The Environmental Protection Act clearly states at Section 11(9) “During the course of the environmental impact assessment, the developer and the person carrying out the environmental impact assessment shall (a) consult members of the public, interested bodies and organizations; (b) provide to members of the public on request, and at no more than the reasonable cost of photocopying, copies of information obtained for the purpose of the environmental impact assessment.”
The residents of these villages, through which the pipeline is slated to pass through, had requested that the EIA be redone, since they were not consulted on how they would be impacted by the project.
Attorney-at-Law, Elizabeth Deane-Hughes had raised these matters with the EPA as well as the review committee, the Board that is tasked with accepting or ordering a review of the document. The EIA was conducted by the Environmental Resources Management (ERM), a United Kingdom Consultancy firm.
In fact, just yesterday, Dean-Hughes wrote to the Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, reminding that several key queries were still unanswered.
For instance, Deane-Hughes said in her letter to the Minister, “All and/or some of the contents in the oral presentations of the Honourable President at State House on 30 June, 2022 may or may not be true and/or valid. Perception of a six or a nine is dependent on perspective inter alia. However, none of it addresses the fact of the lack of adherence to rule of law in the submitted EIA/EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) for GTE pipeline project, the lack of regulatory framework for gas sector, the lack of governing laws for gas sector & lack of land usage acquisition & change of usage.”
The attorney reasoned that no stakeholder consultations were held during the EIA study with persons along the pipeline route in Canals Number One and Two and the other villages.
On Thursday when the President addressed the media he said “as far as I am aware, every single question has been provided with an answer because there is absolutely nothing to hide in this process or project, it is above board, it is transparent, it is open.”
President Ali was adamant the project has undergone “every single test of scrutiny but the time has come that we must move forward, having regards for all the questions in the equation, we have to move forward now and that is why we are here today to outline that process through which this project will move forward in bring the desired benefits to the people of this country and advancing the prosperity of the people of this country.”
While not giving a final price tag, since that will be determined through the final bidding process, President Ali has concluded that the project will cost the nation over the course of its life between four and five US cents per kilowatt hour. The President is adamant that this figure, down from the previous seven US cents per kilo watt hour, includes the full repayment of the 12” pipeline that would be providing some 50 million standard cubic feet of Natural Gas daily to the onshore project.
According to the President, with the negotiations now concluded and with deadline for Request for Proposals ending in September, it is expected that contracts would be signed for the project in the last quarter of the year.
He did disclose that in the coming days, the administration would be looking to secure a Project Manager through a public tender process.
Speaking to the benefits to be had from the project, the President said the initiative includes the natural gas liquids plant and a 300 megawatt (MW) electricity project.
As it relates to the NGL plant, President Ali noted that there would be additional savings for the nation as cheaper cooking gas would be made available populace in addition to the export potential.
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