May 29, 2023 Letters
Kaieteur News – In a shareholder document released on April 13, 2023 ExxonMobil makes this claim, “ExxonMobil’s affiliate [EEPGL] works cooperatively with the Guyana Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure environmental permitting relating to exploration, development, and production activity fully complies with Guyana law.” It states, “…activist litigation to halt oil and gas production has failed in the courts, and pending litigation against the Government of Guyana (in which ExxonMobil’s local affiliate has intervened) also is expected to fail.” This rash judgement did not anticipate the well-reasoned judgement of Justice Kissoon on May 3, who eloquently ruled, see judgement here, https://www.oggn.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Justice-Sandil-Kissoon-Ruling-EPA-20230503.pdf, that the EPA did not properly adhere to what was written in the Liza 1 permit, that there is need for insurance and parent company guarantee to protect Guyana in case of a devastating oil spill.
While this decision is under appeal, we are confident that Justice Kissoon’s decision will be upheld at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). The CCJ is the apex court for Guyana.
ExxonMobil did not anticipate the resolve of Guyanese civil society activists such as Frederick Collins and Godfrey Whyte. Civil Society engaged the courts of Guyana to enforce the Liza 1 permits that were signed by EEPGL and the Guyana EPA.
Another recent example was when civil society members Vanda Radzik, Danuta Radzik and Raphael Singh in December won their case versus the EPA and Schlumberger Guyana over a facility to store radioactive substances, see court ruling here: https://www.oggn.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Radzik-et-al-v-EPA-et-al-Decision-Harnanan-J.pdf.
ExxonMobil in its proxy document to its shareholders is advising shareholders to vote against resolution #14, see the document here https://investor.exxonmobil.com/company-information/annual-reports-proxy. Resolution #14 is a request for ExxonMobil to disclose the risk and its ability to cover liabilities from potential environmental related litigation. The shareholder who crafted the resolution, Anna Lyles PhD, has performed extensive research to support her resolution #14, see a copy of the resolution here https://investor.exxonmobil.com/sec-filings/all-sec-filings/content/0001214659-23-006093/0001214659-23-006093.pdf.
The resolution makes reference to 20 items. A number of references cited Guyanese press articles such as civil society success in reducing the Liza 1 and Liza 2 environmental permits from the EPA-inflated 20 years to 5 years as per Guyanese court order. The maximum allowed is 5 years as per regulation 19 of the 1996 EPA Act. Additionally, Dr. Lyles cited the fact that Liza 1 was pumping oil well above its maximum “safe operating limit”, as per the Liza 1 Environmental Impact Assessment, of 120,000 barrels of oil per day. ExxonMobil is currently operating Liza 1 at 155,000 barrels per day.
Additionally, in August 2020, as detailed here https://www.stabroeknews.com/2020/08/20/news/guyana/epa-to-file-historic-lawsuit-against-exxon-over-fines/, the Guyana EPA was forced to take legal action against ExxonMobil’s subsidiary, EEPGL, after it refused to pay a US$500 fine for violating its own safety procedures and the equipment manufacturer’s instructions to inspect oil hoses before use. This occurred six times within a 12-month period despite warnings. Besides just being a precursor for bigger incidents, it paints a clear picture of EEPGL’s substandard safety culture.
Further, despite being directed by the Guyana EPA to reinject the very hot, oily, toxic and radioactively contaminated produced water back into the oil reservoir of its origin, as required by international standards and recommended by the World Bank Group EHS Guidelines for Offshore Oil & Gas Development 2015 and as enshrined in the Payara permit, the permit for the third oil project, (see clauses 4.7 and 4.17 in https://www.oggn.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Payara-EPA-Issues-Environmental-Permit-for-the-Payara-Project.pdf), this requirement was removed in the subsequent permits issued by the EPA to EEPGL. The waiving of this express requirement allows EEPGL to dump billions of barrels of this polluted produced water into our pristine Caribbean waters. Mixed into the produced water are hundreds of thousands of barrels of pure oil, toxic and radioactive substances.
On Wednesday May 31st, shareholders will vote on resolution #14. We support the ExxonMobil shareholders to vote in favour of resolution #14.
On behalf of OGGN
DECEPTION & CORRUPTION getting WORSE by the minute in GUYANA.
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