Jan 06, 2023 News
– Govt. must perform independent audits of oil companies’ operations, publish environmental data for ongoing public analysis – Advocacy Group
Kaieteur News – The Oil and Gas Governance Network (OGGN), a non-profit organization based in New York, is calling on Government to perform independent audits of oil companies operations. The group said this is vital so that State actors may have a clear and impartial understanding of the environmental implications for citizens and determine the requisite safeguards needed.
Equally critical said OGGN—which is backed by the expertise of several Guyanese in the Diaspora—is that Government makes critical pieces of environmental data public for ongoing analysis.
In one of its commentaries published on its website, the advocacy group said it is important for citizens to understand how oil and gas operations can affect their lives.
While the exploitation of this resource does attract significant revenues, its members warned that it can lead to loss of marine life, disruption to coastal reefs, increased pollution, and negative impacts on climate change and to the people of Guyana, if not managed properly.
OGGN articulated that there are several places where long term, lasting impacts can affect the citizens of Guyana.
With respect to the act of drilling for oil, it said companies setting up oil rigs, or using Floating Production Storage and Offloading Vessels, commonly called FPSOs, discharge hot water from wells into the ocean. It said this forces marine life in the radius of the heavy machinery to migrate to other areas in the ocean. It said this may be detrimental to their well-being and thus disrupt the oceanic food chain.
“Take, for example, shrimp – a delicacy in Guyanese households – that may now have to migrate from the warmer South Atlantic waters to colder ocean water – to which they are not well suited and may likely cause a reduction in their population,” OGGN stated.
Of more impact to natural habitat are oil spills. In this regard, the transparency body said a single oil spill can cost billions of dollars for cleanup, cause substantial impact to marine life, and have lasting long-term impact to any and everything in the vicinity of the spill.
“Take for example, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 which has cost BP (British Petroleum) about US$62 billion. The resulting spill covered 68,000 square miles of sea surface – that is an area which is larger than countries such as Cambodia, Uruguay, or Suriname – and almost 80% the size of Guyana,” stated OGGN.
It was also keen to note that this oil spill also killed approximately one million coastal and offshore seabirds, 5,000 marine mammals, and 1,000 sea turtles. The group said the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill was a combination of a series of human errors, Government’s lack of regulatory procedures and processes for monitoring, inspection, and evaluation, poor environmental governance, and poor operational practices by BP. It said this is the same combination of things it sees brewing in Guyana at the moment, if strict action is not taken now.
In light of the foregoing and other disastrous impacts, OGGN said Guyanese must demand from Leaders and oil companies that emphasis be placed on minimizing the environmental impacts of oil operations. If this is not done, the group said Guyana risks becoming a wealthy, but severely unhealthy population.
Moving ahead, OGGN called for the Guyana Government to address gaps and create stricter legal/regulatory frameworks to ensure standards for compliance, rigorous monitoring and evaluation, and enforcement of all environmental standards are set.
It also called for Government to perform independent audits of the operations of the oil companies to understand their environmental impact, and publish environmental data from the oil and gas industry for ongoing public analysis.
It also recommended that the authorities create a systematic, ongoing plan for monitoring and evaluating impacts by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Oil and Gas Governance Network said the foregoing suggestions, among others, are critical guardrails that can protect current and future generations while ensuring the oil sector is properly regulated. It said that mega profits being made by oil companies cannot and must never trump the safety citizens deserve.
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