…as protesters call for ring-fencing, full liability coverage
Kaieteur News – Local women’s rights group – Red Thread is continuing to actively protest against the lack of ring-fencing provision within the oil contract and for full liability coverage to be provided to Guyana in the event of an oil spill.
The group has been publicly registering their concerns about the deficiencies of the oil sector through peaceful picketing action on a monthly basis.
Members and supporters of Red Thread assembled outside the Office of the President at Vlissingen Road on Wednesday calling for better terms and conditions of Guyana’s 2016 Production Sharing Agreement with oil major, Exxon Mobil.
Halima Khan a member of Red Thread said the group is committed to continuing the protest action every first Wednesday of the month until they are satisfied that the Government of Guyana has listened and adequately addressed the injustices being perpetuated in the Petroleum Industry.
“We are out here for things like the full liability coverage that the main oil operator Exxon refuses to offer Guyana in the event of an oil spill. We are calling on the government to address this problem before we have a spill and then we are left with heavy burden of cleaning up and we don’t have the resources to do so,” she said.
Khan noted that there are many questions about the oil and gas sector that the government needs to answer. “So we will continue to picket because of the effect the decision taken by the government has on Guyanese women particularly those at the grassroots,” she said.
Some of women who stood in the sun outside the Office of President held placards with slogans reading: “Show us the Insurance Documents! Exxon putting we in danger! EPA putting we in danger! And who will pay the clean cost if there is a disaster? We are the owners of these resources; we are not beggars!”
Other protestors used their placard to raise concerns about the lack of ring- fencing provisions in the contract and lack of transparency in the oil sector.
“We are calling for a release of insurance and other pertinent documents in regard to the oil sector,” a protestor pointed out.
Meanwhile, Wintress White an executive member of Red Thread explained that the group initially started protesting to call out the government over its failure to secure proper liability coverage from Exxon to cover Guyana in the event an oil spill but over time their concerns grew to include other aspects of the contract.
White said: “We believe that this provision is important because if there is an accident offshore Guyana, we cannot clean up a major oil spill; we don’t have the money or the skills to do so. We don’t want what happened in the Gulf of Mexico to happen to us. Ever since, those public-spirited citizens took the matter to court and the judge handed down that ruling against the oil company, we have been following this issue…”
White stressed too that the US$2B offered by the oil major cannot adequately cover the cleanup cost in the event of any major oil spill. “We have been calling on the government to act in the interest of Guyana and stop siding with the oil company by joining with them to appeal a decision in favour of the country and its citizens” she added.
The woman lamented that the government’s appeal to the ruling that Exxon must provide a guarantee has left Guyana at risk. “We come to protest to let the wider society know that the government is selling us out!” She asserted.
Additionally, the women’s rights activist believes that the Government should move to get a fairer deal for Guyana. “From what I understand is that Guyana not getting anything from the majority of the oil projects; it is such a bad deal that Guyana is paying for everything…for the children of the oil contractors, employees and affiliates to attend the best private school while Guyanese parents struggle to send their children to school, they are living the best lives and dining in the best restaurants while many citizens of our country can’t afford their three square meals.”
She lamented too that absence of checks and balances within the sector.
“As it stands, we don’t even know exactly how much oil Exxon is taking out of Guyana because our Government is failing to monitor those operations,” she said.
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