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Attorney seeks CARICOM intervention over Exxon’s failures in environmental assessment

Attorney seeks CARICOM intervention over Exxon’s failures in environmental assessment


Gas-to-Energy project…

By Davina Bagot

Kaieteur News – Attorney-at-Law, Elizabeth Hughes has asked the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to intervene in the Gas-to-Energy project, which is being pursued in part by oil giant, ExxonMobil.

Attorney-at-Law, Elizabeth Hughes

In a letter dated May 28, 2022, to the CARICOM Secretary General, Dr. Carla Barnette, the attorney requested, among other things, that the Caribbean stand together to stop Guyana from falling into a Rule of Law conflict, which she said may lead to other issues, including a constitutional crisis.
She explained, “There is an off-shore part where the pipeline runs on the seabed and there is an on-shore aspect which runs from Crane through Canal Number One and Two, then into Wales somewhere, they (Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited [EEPGL] and its independent consultants Environmental Resources Management) were not clear where their responsibility would end on terra firma, when I asked at a public consultation meeting on 11 May 2022. The terra firma aspect has serious issues with compliance to the Rule of Law in Guyana.”
Hughes went on to inform the CARICOM SG that the residents in the area, described as ‘primary stakeholders’ were not consulted prior to the submission of the Environmental Impact Assessment, which is in breach of Section 11 of the Environmental Protection Act and the gunning principles of consultations.
Further, she said that the developer, EEPGL, has not complied with the requirements of the law, as it relates to the provision of “proof that the applicant either owns the facility or has a lease or other agreement with the landowner or occupier to enable the applicant to conduct the activity on the facility or has the legal right or ability to conduct the activity without the consent of the landowner or occupier.” Hughes also pointed out in her letter that, “The developer EEPLG has not shown proof of having conducted a feasibility study as per S12.1 of 1794/2016 Petroleum Agreement.”
The lawyer explained that if the EIA or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is allowed to stand, Guyana will be in a Rule of Law conflict. It is on this premise that she sought the intervention of CARICOM.
Recently, more than a dozen residents of Canal Number One, West Bank Demerara attached their signatures in a letter addressed to the EPA, citing a breach to their right of prior consultation for the proposed Gas-to-Energy pipeline, to be constructed by ExxonMobil in partnership with the Guyana Government.
In the letter dated May 26, 2022 to the Executive Director of the regulatory agency, Mr. Kemraj Parsram, the citizens said they were never consulted, and called for the suspension of the 60-day period, which was opened to allow persons with concerns to register same with the EPA.
“We the residents of Canal Number One, an area through which the proposed pipeline runs, were not consulted at any time before the submissions of the EIA and EIS for the Gas-to-Energy project. This is a fundamental breach of our rights and those under (the) Environmental Protections Act s.11 (9) along with a breach of the principles of internationally recognised consultation practices,” the letter detailed.
About 18 signatures were attached to the correspondence. The law states at Section 11(9): “During the course of the environmental impact assessment, the developer and the person carrying out the environmental impact assessment shall (a) consult members of the public, interested bodies and organisations; (b) provide to members of the public on request, and at no more than the reasonable cost of photocopying, copies of information obtained for the purpose of the environmental impact assessment”.
The EIA submitted by the Environmental Resources Management (ERM) for the Wales Gas-to-Energy project, has signalled that some land owners in Crane, Canal Number One and Canal Number Two, in Region Three may not be allowed to grow crops or develop new structures that may interfere with the pipeline to be laid by Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL).
The Gas-to-Energy project is being pursued by Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), on behalf of itself and its co-venturers (Hess Guyana Exploration Limited and CNOOC Petroleum Guyana Limited). It proposes to bring the associated natural gas, produced from the Liza field in the Stabroek Block, to shore for use.
The Government of Guyana is pursuing a separate project to construct a power plant that would use a portion of this associated natural gas as a fuel source. Accordingly, EEPGL, at the request of the Government, is proposing that the project provide fuel for the power plant.
The project will involve capturing associated gas produced from crude oil production operations on the Liza Phase 1 (Destiny) and Liza Phase 2 (Unity) Floating, Production, Storage, and Offloading (FPSO) vessels, transporting approximately 50 million standard cubic feet per day (MMscfd; 1.4 million standard cubic metres per day [MMsm3/d]) of rich gas via a subsea pipeline and then an on-shore pipeline to a NGL processing plant, treating the gas to remove NGLs for sale to third parties, and ultimately delivering dry gas meeting government specifications for use at the power plant.