Aug 14, 2022 News
…abuses Vincent Adams, others pushing for full liability coverage, changes to oil contract – Glenn Lall
Kaieteur News – It is a case of the hunter becoming the hunted, when it comes to Former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Vincent Adams and other citizens who are now being pilloried by the Guyana Government for insisting that ExxonMobil provide full liability coverage to this country in the event of a disaster at its Stabroek Block operation. Dr. Adams has been on a warpath almost with the administration and the US oil major over this issue.
He has described steps his and other State agencies, such as the former Department of Energy (DoE) were taking at the time in placing Guyana on a better environmental path within the oil sector.
Apart from moves to secure a US$2.5B insurance coverage from Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), Dr. Adams said he was also able to get a commitment from its parent company under previous country president, Rod Henson, to guarantee oil spill coverage beyond what it could afford. Since Adams claimed that the work was in the pipeline and had not materialised before his departure from the EPA in 2020, the government and Exxon’s new country President, Alistair Routledge, have denied the former CEO’s assertion and dared him to provide the documents to substantiate his claims.
The Kaieteur News has, however, reported that both the Bank of Guyana (BoG), the Insurance Association of Guyana and the former DoE were all involved in an important meeting that was supposed to ensure that whatever insurance the EPA was discussing with Exxon at the time would be held in-country as is legally required. Dr. Adams said that the meeting was to support the insurance policy Exxon would provide as dictated by the EPA. As such, Exxon and its partners; Hess Corporation and CNOOC were supposed to discuss among themselves how they would handle the coverage which included parent company guarantee and return it to the environmental agency for approval.
To support Dr. Adam’s position, the Alliance for Change (AFC) released a letter recently as additional proof of the move towards the necessary oil spill coverage. It said that not only was Exxon required to have EPA’s approval on the insurance policy, but that the Bank of Guyana was also supposed to sign off on the coverage once they were satisfied with what was provided.
The December 15, 2020 letter, which was released by the party, was from the then acting Executive Director of EPA, Sharifah Razack to Exxon President, Alistair Routledge, acknowledging receipt of correspondence dated November 30, 2020, providing “…a summary of the steps taken by EEPGL to comply with the insurance requirements prescribed by the Agency in the Environmental Authorisation relative to the company’s offshore petroleum and production facilities.” The letter to Routledge spoke further of a December 22, 2020 meeting where Exxon was required to submit to the EPA one day before “…copies of the agreement(s) which provide coverage for each of the company’s various offshore operations (both production and exploration) together with copies of BoG’s approval/no objection for the respective insurance agreement…”
The November 30, 2020 document, which the then acting EPA head acknowledged, would have been received just days before Dr. Adams was fired from the EPA. The AFC believes therefore, that the copies of the insurance the EPA was talking about could only be that which the agency had discussed with Exxon while Dr. Adams was at the helm of the agency.
Meanwhile, speaking during one of his radio programmes last week, Kaieteur News Publisher, Glenn Lall said he is saddened to see the treatment being meted out to Dr. Adams by government officials in their efforts to protect ExxonMobil. “Can you imagine Guyanese that we have a government who is going after a man, after many of us? A government that is pounding one of its citizens, calling him a liar and all kinds of things because he is standing up for this country and its people against ExxonMobil…The Government is showing us that they are willing to fight us citizens to protect Exxon…this is the State we are in,” Lall lamented on his The Glenn Lall Show. Mr. Lall then alluded to Dr. Adams’ efforts, noting that the former head of the EPA, who knows the right thing and was fighting for the right thing, was fired by Jagdeo back in 2020 November. “The Government said the man (Adams) is lying, but it was Adams who forced Exxon to agree to accept and pay for any damage of in excess of the little insurance we have, but now Jagdeo is saying how the man is lying, instead of him supporting the man for standing up for Guyana, he ‘cussing’ down the man in order to protect ExxonMobil’s interest.”
The Chronicle at sea
Referencing a Guyana Chronicle news article on insurance recently – a newspaper which he said is at sea on the all important oil and gas industry – Mr. Lall said that the state-owned organ reported under the headline: “All EEPGL Permits covered by insurance.”
“The newspaper is telling the Guyanese people that Guyana is covered by insurance from the three oil companies pumping oil out there. That is what you call half-truth or half of the facts, the other half, the most important half, was not in the story. Yes, EEPGL, the three oil companies partnership gave Guyana insurance but what is the amount of the insurance coverage? Can that sum cover compensation for damages and destruction from an oil spill? Absolutely NO,” Mr. Lall thundered. “The insurance that the Guyana Chronicle talked about, would not even be able to cover, buy back the clothes we wearing on our backs, much less our livelihoods. But this is the message the government is proud to put on the Guyana Chronicle front page to mislead you, making you think that you are well protected by insurance, when you are not. And the little insurance coverage that the Guyana Chronicle talked about, if there is an oil spill, the oil companies have to decide whether they were negligible and whether the insurance company should pay or not. Long story short, the oil company gave you a $2 insurance for a trillion-dollar damage but still has the key in their hand to tell the insurance company whether to pay Guyana or don’t pay Guyana, and that is what President Ali and Jagdeo along with (Aubrey) Norton and (Khemraj) Ramjattan have the Guyana Chronicle selling this country, so boldly on its front page,” the newspaper publisher and businessman explained.
Lall said the whole world is telling Guyana to ensure that it gets full liability coverage from the parent companies of ExxonMobil, Hess Corporation and CNOOC for a major oil spill. “And our leader, Jagdeo dancing with that, keep approving projects upon projects without getting full protection of your future.”
Touching on the other troublesome issue of flaring, Mr. Lall said that the whole world knows that flaring, [burning the gas produced during oil production], is illegal, harmful and detrimental to the universe. “All over the world, oil companies are being fined and the brakes put on them. In Guyana however, the fine Jagdeo has ExxonMobil paying is encouraging them to flare because it is profitable for the oil companies to keep on flaring,” Mr. Lall told his audience. Dr. Adams, also citing the irreparable damage being caused by natural gas flaring, has calculated that the US oil giant, ExxonMobil, has been pocketing US$35 on every dollar it pays to the regulator as a fine for the harmful activity. “Uncle,” Lall said as he referred to his listeners, “you got to hear this one and you got to smile with this one, every dollar the oil companies pay Guyana them make $35. Uncle, who won’t want to pay a $1 fine for breaking the law and making $35, if that is not a sweetheart deal, I don’t know what to call that, no business on earth gives you that kind of profit. Invest $1, destroying the whole environment and making $35, and Jagdeo proud to say he increased ExxonMobil flaring fee by $5. Imagine the $5 increase this financial guru boasting about he put on Exxon have Guyana collecting $1 while ExxonMobil walks away with $35 for every $1 they pay Guyana. When Guyana gets US$12,000 a day for flaring, ExxonMobil gets US$700,000. Do the math and you will see what we get in a year as to what ExxonMobil gets. We get US$4.4M and ExxonMobil gets US$255M.”
Mr. Lall calculated that what ExxonMobil gets for breaking Guyana’s laws can build another Demerara Harbour Bridge. “This is what Jagdeo allowing the ExxonMobil team to do. Simply put, ExxonMobil taking our oil wealth, breaking the law, destroying our environment, making big profits, while throwing a little pocket change to us from our own oil,” he concluded.
Gas flaring has been condemned severely in different countries of the world. Though, the practice is still obtainable in some countries, many are calling for a stop. The environmental and health implications were examined with Nigeria as a case study. The data showed that gas flaring has impoverished the communities where it is practised, with attendant environmental, economic and health challenges. Two Fridays ago, Communications Manager of ExxonMobil Guyana, Janelle Persaud disclosed that to date, the company has made payments on 279,537.33 tonnes of CO2e (Carbon Dioxide equivalent) flared.
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