Latest update March 25th, 2023 12:52 AM
Mar 09, 2023 News
By Davina Bagot
Kaieteur News – As Guyana joined the rest of the World in observing International Women’s Day yesterday, a group of ladies took to the streets with their placards, demanding government secure full liability coverage for ExxonMobil’s oil and gas operations offshore.
The grassroots women who are part of the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), ‘Red Thread’, protested outside the Office of the President on Vlissengen Road, Georgetown. Just over a dozen women were at the event with placards that read: “Show us the signed insurance documents” and “Who will pay the clean-up cost in case of a disaster? “Guyanese tax payers?”
One of the leaders of the women’s organisation, Wintress White told this newspaper that the members are “mad” and “furious” that Exxon has been proudly reporting the billions it has been earning thanks to Guyana’s resources, while the nation is yet to make sure a parent company guarantee is secured to cover costs if there were to be a large oil spill. “We were out there because we are concerned and we are angry and we mad that they take they eyes and pass us and we fed up of this eye pass because they on the one hand reporting how much billions they are making in oil profits from Guyana and yet they eyes so pass us, that they are not offering us full liability coverage,” White argued.
She said the multi-national oil corporation has accelerated the rate of production activities in Guyana’s waters, hinting that an oil spill can occur at any time. Be that as it may, she said Exxon has refused to fully secure its operations to put the Guyanese public at ease. According to her, “Everybody knows once you are doing drilling and drilling at the rate that they are drilling at, there will be an accident and when that occurs who will pay? Not ExxonMobil! They are not prepared to pay and the operation what they put up as they have- their assets can’t offset that so that is why we were out there.”
White explained that she believes an oil spill can cost Guyana as much as three times its national budget. “We are worried because as you know we are grassroots women, meaning we are poor and everything runs on us. If Guyana has a spill, the amount of insurance coverage that ExxonMobil is prepared to offer us cannot offset that. It is three times our national budgets and budgets vary from year to year but the thought is scary that a spill could cost three times our national budget and the money that Exxon is offering us and the parent company is not even near,” the woman pointed out.
This means that the burden will be placed on tax payers’ backs to foot the bill associated with cleanup. White said: “We are mad and furious because at the end of the day is poor people and their children will have to pay so that is why we were out there to send a strong message that they must pay the full liability cost for drilling we oil.”
The woman explained that since the production activities commenced in 2019, the lives of the poor have not become any easier but in fact has become even more challenging. “None of the oil benefits is coming to us directly. Yes, the government might argue that they are building roads and schools but poor people cannot eat roads and if we can’t find food to give our children, I won’t even say nutritional meals because we can’t even afford to eat properly. We eat what we can to full our stomachs meaning whatever we grab, we cook,” she said. Even though the country claims to be earning revenue from a significant source, the women organisation said the cost of living is so high that rent and food has gone up by almost 100 percent. As the largest producer of oil in the country, ‘Red Thread’ said ExxonMobil must provide full liability coverage for its operations.
Oil spill insurance?
Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), the operator of the Stabroek Block and Exxon’s subsidiary has committed a US$600 million insurance policy per oil spill event in the Stabroek Block. The company said it also has assets worth just over US$5 billion, should those be needed to cover cleanup costs. Meanwhile, the parent company ExxonMobil is yet to supply a company guarantee to assure it will cover costs that exceed the limited insurance policy. This parent company guarantee is required as outlined by the Permit it received from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
They are being paid while we are being played…your pain is their gain!
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