Aug 11, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – Natural Resources Minister, Vickram Bharrat assured Guyanese some weeks ago that the World Bank US$1M grant to upgrade the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oil and gas capacity has not been scrapped.
He was happy to report that not only was the project “not cancelled”, but that the agency’s oil and gas department grew from its three staff members to 13. However, EPA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Khemraj Parsram seems not to know anything about the project especially since he said that the agency has no copy of the relevant document. The last time the CEO spoke with the publication, he promised to provide an update on the “Institutional Assessment and Action Plan for the oil and gas sector for the EPA of Guyana” project which he said he was unaware of since it was not done during his tenure as CEO.
Parsram explained yesterday that his understanding is that the government is dealing with the document regarding the World Bank. “We don’t have any record of the document in here, but I am advised that the Government of Guyana, through the Ministry of Natural Resources is looking at that World Bank project and I will be advised accordingly,” Parsram related. When the newspaper clarified that the document in question dealt with the World Bank EPA grant and not the World Bank oil and gas management loan under which the grant was issued, he said that, “anything that deals with the world bank currently, I have no documentation… So I don’t know if it is a loan or grant or whatever it is, it is being dealt with by the Ministry of Natural Resources and I’ll be guided accordingly.”
On the question of the EPA oil and gas staff, Parsram said that based on his review, he would have hired persons when he assumed his post at the EPA. He said that when he came to the agency, he worked to strengthen the oil and gas department by hiring staff and increasing their capacity with the appropriate training as well as strengthening the agency’s remote real time monitoring capacity.
Minister Bharrat was at the time responding to critics in Parliament during his arguments against a motion by Shadow oil and Gas Minister David Patterson for full liability oil and gas insurance policy. Dr. Vincent Adams, who previously headed the EPA, lambasted the government and the EPA for not activating the work that was done under the project. He has also challenged the government and the state agency to make public the information regarding the “highly trained” oil and gas specialists hired under the grant; showing where the 13 mentioned people fit into the specific positions; their qualifications and how they fit into the structure.
Adams had told the publication that he personally requested and secured the US$1M grant from the local World Bank representative here. The key focus areas of the grant involved monitoring and accessing pertinent information needed for oil and gas oversight purposes, Adams explained. He continued that representatives of the highly skilled 36-member Petroleum Unit would have entailed professionals in petroleum engineering, geological engineering, waste management and the likes and they would have provided “24/7” monitoring aboard Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessels offshore Guyana; allowing for the country to effectively manage the industry for itself.
The Petroleum Unit, he added, would have been extremely useful because its experts would have been providing round the clock monitoring, and gathering information that Guyana could have used to put itself in a better position where managing its oil is concerned. Without these measures in place, the country is left to depend on reports and data the oil companies provide.
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