Encouraging Events, Disturbing Developments
By GHK Lall
Kaieteur News – I need some help. Who is running this country? Is it the PPP Government and its leaders? Or is it Exxon? What is the use of Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if it is being continually ignored, dismissed, and embarrassed by Exxon? And the last one is this: is the equivalent of what is happening in Guyana taking place anywhere else? The fact that I even have to raise questions like these is not just disturbing, it is sickening and enraging.
I take issue with Exxon kicking around from my President to my Vice President to our EPA. There has to be a stop to this nonsense, where the American oil monstrosity (and it is nothing but that) is concerned, but who is going to do the stopping? Yes, I think it is going to have to come to this unhealthy space. But it discourages that leaders in the PPP Government seem better suited to suck up to Exxon, than to sum up the courage and skill to stand against it. There is no EPA permit relative to the pipeline to transport gas from the offshore Stabroek Block to the Wales facility, but Exxon could care less, could not have shown a greater disregard for such frivolities as EPA permits. There is no other way for me to put what Exxon’s actions represent, considering the disrespect to all Guyanese, starting from the EPA head, and spreading out from him to Guyana’s President, Government, and every citizen of this country. What Exxon is doing openly and arrogantly should not be allowed to pass unanswered.
The company signed one contract over a week ago for US$1.3B with a Dutch firm Van Oord, and another, Subsea 7, that is registered in Luxemburg to assist with various aspects of the gas-to-energy project. This was despite having no EPA permit. Last Wednesday, Exxon executed another contract, this time with a British company, Technip FMC. It is described as a “significant” contract, which means it could be anywhere between $75M and $250M. The only thing that the current Head of Guyana’s EPA would confirm is that no permit has been issued by his agency. One would have at least expected some outrage at the audacity and arrogance of Exxon with such a glaring insult, not once, but twice.
Where is our self-respect in this country? If a Guyanese company dares to try something like that, the EPA (and others) would be all over it. Clearly, our days of slavery are not over, and the discovery of oil has only tightened the chains. It is incredible that Guyana’s President and Vice President who both like sticking it to citizens of this country could be so docile and understanding when the fairer ones are involved. I appreciate that we need foreign investment and expertise. But we don’t have to undress ourselves this publicly.
As much as Exxon has a lot of reach and power in the United States, I would like to see something like this there; or anywhere else for that matter. It is only in a backward place like Guyana, with the kind of compromised and captive leaders that we have in government, that something like this could happen. The American oil company is behaving itself as though it can do anything here, stretch any envelope past any breaking point, and get away with such without fear of consequence. It appears as though the company holds some kind of leadership guarantee that we are going to take it, love it, and live with it, with a cooperative smile plastered over our dark faces. Go ahead, people of Exxon, kick us with the other foot; feel free to repeat it, too. This is the type of stuff that has caused other places to erupt.
We are worried about Dutch disease and resource curse, and I say look at our own national sicknesses and curses that we have from the top and to the bottom.The President delights in railing and raging at Guyanese, it would be good to see him exhibit some of that now. The same from the Vice President would be welcomed. Which one will tame the tiger?
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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