Sep 20, 2022 News
– Former EPA Head tells Govt.SS
Kaieteur News – In light of numerous inadequacies within the petroleum sector, former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Head, Dr. Vincent Adams has reiterated calls for the Government to make public its list of trained professionals and petroleum experts hired to monitor and manage the development of its oil and gas resources.
Adams, a Petroleum Engineer, with a wealth of experience and knowledge in the energy industry, is adamant that Guyanese ought to know how their lucrative oil sector is being protected by its leaders. Pointing to the meager US$600m oil spill insurance that Guyana has from ExxonMobil’s affiliate, Esso Exploration & Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), as well as the US$2B parent company guarantee that is yet to be resolved, Adams said the Government must help citizens to understand who is currently working for the protection of their environment and the revenue coming from the sector. After it was revealed by the Government that the EPA’s World Bank US$1m grant project to increase the capacity of the environmental agency had not been scrapped, the former EPA CEO challenged the administration to release information about the petroleum crews and their operations since little to no information had been forthcoming on the important persons trained and hired.
Adams reiterated his calls however, after noticing that the Government was publishing oil related data that appeared to be coming directly from computers in the control rooms of the Stabroek Block based Floating production storage and offloading (FPSOs). Adams told the newspaper that the production data and other oil related information now being publicized by the Natural Resource Ministry should be in a table form and not the graphs pulled off the computer screens if the aim is to awaken Guyanese about their oil industry. “How many regular people do you know could read those graphs?” Adams questioned. He opined, “It is deliberate so as to make it difficult for people to scrutinize it.” Adams said in the earlier stages of the industry, he was the only person deciphering the petroleum data. Given the secrecy surrounding the management of the industry now, Adams said “…who knows what is going on at the EPA”, and other agencies receiving the information.
The former EPA head informed also that when he headed that agency he received daily numbers on the sector, as well as the graph that was made available for public consumption. This data, he reiterated, is coming straight from the FPSO. “Don’t let them fool you; it is coming from the electronic readout in the control room of the ship and that is why it’s on a graph, and we have no one on the ship to understand what’s going on. There is no reason why they can’t post daily because it should be all electronic and it should be put in a table form.” Adams has further called on the Government to facilitate the exposure of the country’s petroleum teams by allowing a media walkthrough of the relevant locations where they work. “They must list the staff and their positions and their qualifications, as compared to the World Bank Plan and organizational structure; with position, qualifications and roles and responsibilities,” Adams submitted.
While current EPA Head. Khemraj Parasram had repeated ignorance of the World Bank funded program that sought to develop the capacity of the environmental agency, Natural Resource Minister Vickram Bharrat had told Parliament that the program was not scrapped. He claimed that 13 persons were trained under the program, despite the plan facilitating a “highly trained” 36-member team of petroleum professionals to work within the sector. “They (EPA) must show us where these 13 people fit into the specific positions; show us their qualifications and how they fit into the structure,” Adams insisted.
Opposition MP and Shadow Petroleum Minister, David Patterson also questioned Government’s handling of the oil sector. He called on the administration to equip the EPA with the necessary personnel and equipment to allow Guyana’s protection from oil spill devastation. Following the one barrel oil spill from Exxon’s operations last week, the Alliance for Change (AFC) is making another call for the government “to put in place full coverage liability for the petroleum production as is required by the Permits and demanded by almost all private citizens.”
He said that Exxon had reported that “no more than one tablespoon” of crude oil has been spilled since the commencement of oil production in Guyana. “This amount has now risen to one barrel, by volume, this is an over 10,000 percent increase, which highlights that the possibility of a major oil spill is high, and will continue to increase directly proportional to increased oil production.”
Patterson said that the AFC is calling for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversight mechanisms to be strengthened as it is unacceptable for this agency to be solely relying on the operator for information on spillages and other hazards during oil production operations. “We once again call upon the Government to restore the rigorous oversight that was planned under the coalition and which the PPPC has irresponsibly scrapped to the detriment of the nation. This includes the highly specialized 36-member Oil & Gas Unit that was developed by the World Bank and the EPA for which the World Bank provided $1 million USD grant.” He said that the program allowed among other things, “24/7 on-site EPA presence in order to obtain real-time and accurate information, instead of having to rely upon and accept information solely provided by Exxon.”
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