Jul 29, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – The subsidiary of American oil giant, ExxonMobil, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) has moved ahead with awarding the contract to lay the pipeline for the US-multibillion Gas-to-Energy (GTE) project despite no environmental permit being granted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
This week, EEPGL awarded the contract to lay the US$1.3 billion pipeline component to Subsea 7 and Van Oord, two international companies. The scope covers the project management, engineering, and installation of approximately 190 kilometres of pipeline, with an associated shallow water portion and onshore approach making landfall to the west of the Demerara River, along the coast of Guyana.
The Environmental Protection (EP) Act is clear at Section 21(1) that “No person shall- (a) construct, alter, extend or replace any plant, structure, equipment, apparatus, mechanism, or thing that may discharge or from which may be discharged a contaminant into any part of the natural environment except under and in accordance with a construction permit issued by the Agency…”
This therefore means that EEPGL is required to seek an environmental permit from the EPA before it rolls out any developmental project that can affect the environment. EEPGL’s gas-to-power project seeks to link the Liza Phases 1 and 2 floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessels, the Liza Destiny and Unity, in the Stabroek block onshore Guyana, to supply gas to the country.
EEPGL has been reported to say a minimum of 50 million standard cubic feet of gas per day (mmscfd) will be transported through the pipeline by 2024 and that the pipeline would have a maximum capacity of 130 mmscfd. According to Offshore Energy, Craig Broussard, Vice President for Subsea 7 US, said, “We are honoured to have been selected for Guyana Gas to Energy. This is an important project to support the Guyanese people and we look forward to continuing our relationship with EEPGL in one of the most prolific and exciting development basins in the world.”
Hans van Gaalen, Commercial Director for Van Oord, adds, “Van Oord is honoured to have been selected for the Guyana Gas to Energy project in cooperation with Subsea 7. Developing the coastal infrastructure for the project will allow our Subsea 7 and Van Oord consortium to positively contribute to the development of Guyana’s electricity supply which in turn will reduce Guyana’s dependence on imported fuels.”
This publication had reported that, already, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been submitted to the EPA by ExxonMobil for the pipeline component of the US-billion dollar venture. Upon the submission of that document, environmentalists have argued against the “chopping” of the project into several aspects. In fact, it was a Geologist, Simone Mangal-Joly that explained the Environmental Protection Act clearly states that an EIA must be done for a whole project and does not permit splitting into parts based on who is financing or running a specific part.
She reasoned, “I did not engage the gas-to-shore EIA process beyond the 28-day period comment period in July 2021 on the terms of reference for the study because the process is a farce. This was obvious to me when the EPA ignored submissions in that comment period and proceeded with allowing ExxonMobil to do an EIA without including the power plant.”
Moreover, the residents of Crane and the Canal Polders on the West Bank of Demerara opposed the EIA and called for the study to be redone as they were not consulted.
Meanwhile, on July 2, the Ministry of Natural Resources moved to invite proposals for consultancy services for the supervision of the integrated NGL Plant and the 300 megawatt (MW) combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plant.
This move by the government was criticized by the former Head of the EPA, Dr. Vincent Adams as he believes this was another case of the government putting the cart before the horse. This move by the government was criticized by the former Head of the EPA, Dr. Vincent Adams as he believes this was another case of the government putting the cart before the horse. He said that the government should not be inviting consultants to supervise the construction of the facilities without conducting an EIA. He said, “…What an EIA does, before you even start construction, it drives the design of the facility because the EIA has got to identify hazards for example so when it does that then the developer would design it to mitigate against these hazards. So what they are doing is putting the cart before the horse. You cannot design and construct a facility if you don’t know what the hazards are.”
Similarly, Mangal-Joly also told this publication that the government’s approach is “unethical and amounts to willful duping of the public by shading and distancing the true scope of risks and potential impacts of the project. It’s saddening to see the Ministry of Natural Resources advertising for personnel for parts of this project not yet applied for or approved amid a contested pipeline EIA process.”
She added, “It shows contempt for the people of Guyana, rule of law, and democratic norms. Folks seem to want to talk about these things when it comes to national elections but not when it comes to environmental governance.”
Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo on the sideline of the National Toshaos Council Conference told this publication in an exclusive interview that the EPA is now vetting the government’s application for the Natural Gas Liquids (NGL) facility and the power plant.
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