Oil Companies in Guyana must make disaster response, compensation plans public-NRGI
By Kaieter News
Petroleumworld 06 08 2018
The Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) is of the firm view that oil companies should allow the government and civil society to hold them to account for their mitigation strategies.
To do this, the New York-based entity stressed that oil companies must ensure that all impact assessments, monitoring plans, disaster response plans, compensation and/or resettlement plans, and project closure plans are well-prepared, timely, and publicly available.
The entity stressed in one of its reports to emerging oil producing countries, Guyana included, that a request from companies in this regard is considered an international best practice.
Further to this, it called on Governments to ensure that operators have available funds for mitigation commitments throughout the life cycle of oil projects.
As for the public, the transparency body said that every citizen has the right to question if the government's policy on impact mitigation is of a high standard, and if oil companies follow it.
If the government's policy is not of a high standard, NRGI said that citizens should seek answers on whether the company instead, takes the necessary extra steps to meet a strong international standard.
Even though oil production is set to kick off in 2020, the Government is still to complete a national oil spill response plan.
This was confirmed recently by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon.
He was at the time, responding to questions from this newspaper as it relates to the oil spill response plan and a timeline for its completion. The Minister of State noted that while he could not provide a timeline for the completion of the project, “it remains a work in progress.”
Harmon said, “(Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael) Trotman addressed this at the Guyana International Petroleum Business Summit (GIPEX) that work is going on in that regard and it involves the Civil Defence Commission, the communities that are part of an ongoing outreach by not only ExxonMobil but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Environment…”
The Cabinet Secretary added, “So the plan is not complete. It is a work in progress and we trust that at the end of it, we will all have a plan that we are all comfortable with. I can say that we are getting good advice on international best practices in this regard…”
From all indications, it appears that the coalition administration is confident that the necessary safeguards are in place to deal with any possible environmental implication that would result from petroleum operations offshore Guyana.
In fact, Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman noted a few weeks ago that like many members of civil society, the topic of oil spill response and preparedness is something he is concerned about.
The Minister stated, “I know there have been different interpretations but ExxonMobil has demonstrated that it is doing all that it can do and it has acquired the very best of technology that the world has to offer to date for design and construction of FPSO and various subsea architecture to deploy…We are also working with the Civil Defense Commission while preparing a national response plan.”
Trotman added, “I have seen a draft of it and it is in various stages of development. We are also seeking training from the US Coast Guards and speaking with other Governments for support…We are not at all taking this for granted. It is something that we are very concerned about…”
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