Aug 09, 2022 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Former Executive Director of Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dr. Vincent Adams, is not backing down from his previous assertions. What he has said is that there were fruitful discussions and developments with ExxonMobil’s former Country Head, Mr. Rod Henson, on the issue of full liability coverage for Guyana by the company. Senior people from Guyana’s Central Bank and the Insurance Association of Guyana, who were also present in those meetings, have since publicly confirmed that they were there, and the issue was raised. Now both the local EPA, and the American oil giant have linked arms in efforts to overpower Dr. Adams.
As we proceed, we make something clear right away. If a position has to be taken on who is more credible, which one of the clashing parties could be trusted more, we have to come out on the side of Dr. Adams. We have not found him to disguise or falsify anything in attempts to misrepresent the facts, and deceive the reading public. This ought to present how our own local EPA is considered, with nothing left to be said on where we stand with ExxonMobil and its rapaciously predatory leaders.
The issue before all citizens is one that harbours much menace for each one of them. It concerns “the amount and availability of oil spill insurance for the Stabroek Block” (“‘Put up or shut up’ …Former EPA Head challenges EPA, Exxon to publicize all spill policy” -KN August 8). Those are strong words, which indicate that he is geared for a public fight in his struggle to get the facts right for Guyanese. He has pointed to specific sections of the Permit signed by ExxonMobil and Guyana, which greenlighted operations in the Stabroek Block. Dr. Adams has quoted copiously from Sections 1, 3, 4, and 5 of the Permit, which language speaks cleanly, on the extent of what is involved on the thorny issue of full liability coverage in the event of an oil spill, and who is responsible for providing that coverage. Specifically, those Sections of the Permit identify coverage, supplementary coverage, and developments relative to any modification, cancellation, or expiration, and the binding requirement that Guyana’s EPA must be informed, and review with a view to accepting or not. According to the Former EPA Head, these were among the things that ExxonMobil’s then Country Head, Mr. Henson, signed on behalf of the company.
This public spat, which increases in intensity daily, highlights a couple of concerns. What is there, or what is not there, in terms of an underlying full liability coverage policy, or contingency provision, to protect Guyana and possibly the region, on the part of ExxonMobil? Did the company actually go to the effort and expense of obtaining what had to be had, and in keeping with the Permit that was signed by ExxonMobil’s then most senior representative in this country? Or did it balk at the thought of what such an outlay of funds would mean for the company’s profit numbers, and dragged its feet? Also, why is Guyana’s EPA, which has the crucial duty of safeguarding the interests of this country not more energized in engaging ExxonMobil’s people to get full disclosure on where matters stand, and in fulfillment of the Permit executed?
Moreover, what is discomforting is that this country’s own EPA is much more comfortable going after Dr. Adams with the objective of degrading what he has had the courage and integrity to share with all Guyana. It would be helpful if we and the rest of Guyana could get a better handle on why our own EPA sees this as a proper course of action. The bottom line is whether ExxonMobil has taken out such full liability coverage for Guyana, or it has not to date. It is our belief that the resources and energies of the EPA would be better channeled, with much more value for Guyana, if ExxonMobil is made to come clean on what it has for a policy. All this partnering with others to publicly flay an outspoken Guyanese is self-defeating, and risks Guyana’s own self-destruction from a real catastrophic oil spill, while it is without this compulsory and vital full liability coverage.
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