Latest update March 25th, 2023 12:52 AM
Mar 08, 2023 News
…says troublesome Exxon Permits approved under his watch
Kaieteur News – Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has over time repeatedly lambasted former Head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for signing the worst permit, that authorized the development of the country’s first producing oil field—Liza I.
In fact, the former Head-of-State, now Vice President, over time proffered publicly that it was his administration that would have sought to correct the flaws that were had in the Liza I authorization.
Vice President Jagdeo has also, on numerous occasions, public revered changes made under the incumbent administration bringing ExxonMobil Guyana’s operations in the Stabroek Block in conformity with global standards. He repeated the sentiments this past week during a press engagement held at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre (ACCC).
To this end, former EPA Head under the previous administration, Dr. Vincent Adams has since moved to set the record straight, in the process accuse the Vice President, of easily and barefacedly misleading the Guyanese public on facts surrounding the inner workings of the oil deals being inked with the oil operators, namely in the Stabroek Block.
These are, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL)—ExxonMobil Guyana—Hess Guyana Exploration Limited and China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) Petroleum Guyana.
Chiming in during a public engagement by Kaieteur News Publisher and Social Commentator, Glenn Lall, who during his Monday evening live radio programme—also streamed online—he raised the positions held by Jagdeo on the permits.
As such, Dr. Adams in response to Vice President’s Jagdeo utterances, firstly sought to point out that the first permit that was issued to the consortium to develop the Liza I oil field was in fact signed by the current head of the EPA, Khemraj Parsram.
Taking this into account, Dr. Adams in his contribution reiterated that he was retained at the EPA 17 months after that document had been inked.
A modified permit issued to the consortium in 2022, has also been inked by Parsram.
According to Dr. Adams, it was he, who upon taking up his post as head of the EPA that caused improvements to be had in the second development that ExxonMobil Guyana applied for.
He was adamant that all changes that would have been made for that and subsequent developments, namely Payara and Yellowtail, would have benefited from the changes he made.
Dr. Adams has since challenged Vice President Jagdeo to provide a comparative analysis of the Liza I permit—that he has repeatedly condemned—and the second that was inked by him.
Additionally, he has also challenged Jagdeo to show where, except for the flaring fines, that the language of the permits had been changed from the Liza II permit that he approved.
It should be observed that the Liza I development was in fact authorized by Parsram in June 1, 2017.
While Dr. Adams would have given the go ahead for the second development—Liza II—he noted that the Payara or third development and the fourth, Yellowtail, were all issued by Parsram under the stewardship of the incumbent administration.
Dr. Adams was adamant, that it was not until almost two years after the first permit had been issued by Parsram that he took up the post on October 1, 2018.
Dr. Adams disclosed that when he took up his post, there had been a Permit on his desk for his signature authorizing that Liza II development and he refused given that it was an exact replica of the first, issued by Parsram.
“I said absolutely not, I am not signing it,” Dr. Adams contends before pointing to two major changes that he would have had included in the second permit.
He identified firstly the matter of full liability coverage and juxtaposed that with the provision that had been issued by Parsram, which spoke to self-insurance by EEPGL, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil.
“Liza I (Permit) said that EEPGL which is the subsidiary of Exxon, not Exxon, EEPGL will carry the insurance.”
According to Dr. Adams, “I said are you out of your mind!” and recalled that the company at the time didn’t not have any supporting assets and in fact had not even produced a drop of oil as yet and asked rhetorically, “where the hell are they going to get assets to cover a spill, I am not going to sign any Permit; the Permit sat on my desk for several months and I said I am not signing it, you will not produce a barrel of oil.”
This position, he said, led to a subsequent shift by the Operator EEPGL leading to several rounds of meetings on working out how the parent companies would provide written guarantees for full liability coverage insurance in the case of an oil spill.
“I was the one who put in Liza II Permit to correct Liza I and the copied the language that I put in Liza II, that’s what’s copied in all of the permits and now he’s taking credit for it,” Dr. Adams contended.
Jagdeo’s duplicity is further exposed in a public revelation when he said the language of the Payara and Yellowtail permits had been changed, and according to Dr. Adams, he is in agreement, since after he corrected the first with the second, the administration subsequently just copied the text.
He disclosed too that in early 2018, the operators pleaded with him to approve the permit and he again refused that “they come around and agreed for the parent company guarantee.”
According to Dr. Adams, “we were holding meetings for several months to come up with the language becau
se they say, they are three companies and they have got to come up with an agreement as to how they would cover the liability.”
This was agreed to “however, I have to get it before you can start.” This would have been for the Liza II and Payara developments.
To this end, he recalled that when it came time to address the Payara Permit, in 2020, “I told them I am not signing the Payara until I get the document signed.”
According to Dr. Adams, he was later removed as head and the permit approved shortly after. He noted too that not only his service at the EPA that was terminated but that of the attorney that had been finalizing the parent guarantee.
Further flacking the incumbent government over its treatment of issuing permits for the development of more oil fields in the Stabroek Block, Dr. Adams said that among the changes made was to allow Exxon to flare toxic plumes into the atmosphere, provided the company pays a pittance of a fine—US$50 for every ton of gas flared above any prescribed or authorized periods.
“We said flaring, flaring is not permitted period, is prohibited. The word is flaring is prohibited, I even have to shut Exxon down once when they were flaring until they repaired the equipment.”
Expressing disbelief, Dr. Adams drew reference to the fact; the Vice President was actually seeking to claim credit for the fine.
“They added that as long as Exxon can pay to flare, that measly amount of money, let them flare unlimited quantity.”
Jagdeo in his defence of the position has contended that ExxonMobil Guyana is allowed to flare for only 60 days after which the fines would be imposed but according to Dr. Adams, the administration went against the advice of its own consultants and experts that had been adamant that flaring above permissible levels should be restricted to 48 hours.
“You know what is the USA standard that we had put in the Payara Draft, you know what was the USA standard then, flaring for 48 hours,” he reiterated to qualify his position further.
Given the numerous complaints over the Liza I permit, Dr. Adams also rhetorically questioned, why would the Vice President preside over the return of Parsram—the same person that inked the badly criticized Permit—to head the EPA after his removal.
They are being paid while we are being played…your pain is their gain!
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