GUYANA: Gov’t and Exxon not seeing eye to eye on several issues in Payara permit

Vice President (VP), Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, yesterday informed the press that several issues remain in the Field Development Plan (FDP) for ExxonMobil’s Payara project, on which the Government and the company do not see eye to eye, but that negotiations are ongoing and the administration’s fulfillment of its promises is a work in progress.

Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo  and Dr. Irfaan Ali

The President, Dr. Irfaan Ali said that he has asked the Vice President, as well as Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat to examine the issues surrounding the Payara project on a daily basis, to advise and inform him. 

Dr. Jagdeo and Dr. Ali informed reporters of these developments during a press conference yesterday at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre. The approval of the Payara project, intended for startup in 2023, has been held up partly due to several environmental infractions committed by Exxon, which pervade all of its development projects.

The VP said he was informed that the negotiations have wound down from 40 issues to about seven or eight.

The company has flared more than 10 billion cubic feet of natural gas at its Liza Phase One operations over the past eight months, though the gas is supposed to be re-injected into the reservoir, blaming the sustained pollution on a defective gas compressor. Dr. Jagdeo yesterday reiterated the government’s position that it is opposed to flaring, though the issue persists. Environmentalist, Annette Arjoon-Martins, worries that it could have a compromising effect on Guyana’s environmental development partners who have funded development projects here.

In addition, Exxon is dumping thousands of gallons of produced water into the ocean every day. The produced water, according to the World Bank’s advice on the best practice, should be re-injected unless dumping it is found to be completely necessary.

President of ExxonMobil Guyana, Alistair Routledge, had said that the company wants to continue dumping the liquids into the ocean, making poorly supported claims that it has no effect on the environment. At this juncture, the extent of the impact of produced water being dumped into the oceans is unknown.

The government does not appear to have a position on whether the water should be re-injected or dumped into the ocean. Jagdeo said yesterday that however it is discharged, the produced water must be treated to international standards.

The issues which persist at Liza Phase One find themselves rooted in loopholes in the permit which have been exploited by ExxonMobil. These loopholes are also, according to EPA Head, Dr. Vincent Adams, repeated in the Liza Phase Two and Payara FDPs.

Past Director of the National Gas Company of Trinidad & Tobago (NGC), Cathal Singh had duly shed light on the inferiority of the Liza Phase One EIA, when he said that it would not have passed the T&T regulator due to fundamental flaws. Kaieteur News was only lately informed by International Lawyer, Melinda Janki, that the Liza-1 permit was approved on the very day that Exxon submitted its 1500-page EIA.

Though Jagdeo expressed the government’s positions on these environmental matters, he stressed that those positions are “generic” and that he did not want to telegraph what may be the government’s final position in the negotiations.

Though he did not admit to budging on the issues, Jagdeo said that the government sees its relationship with Exxon as a continuum and that the “Payara license is not the only opportunity” as “Exxon is not gonna disappear tomorrow.”

He explained that the PPP does intend to deliver on the promises it campaigned on, by ensuring the company and the people benefit, but that Payara is not the “make-or-break” project.

“There are numerous opportunities in this continuum,” he said. “This is not a one-event activity, where Payara will determine all of our relationship or determine all of our negotiating positions or opportunities, because there will be one when we come to talk about local content… and the development of our gas fields… and training opportunities.”

He sought to explain that with the global downfall in the financial positions of several international oil companies, it is important for Guyana to secure investment dollars in the interest of the country.

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  • kamtanblog  On 09/09/2020 at 3:23 am

    Totally disagree !
    Health and safety should not be a “compromised” fudged
    issue. No ifs or buts !

    Putting profits before people’s health and safety should remain a priority with monitoring and testing by independently appointed researchers.
    Not rocket science !
    Sampling and testing
    work in progress.

    My two cents

    Kamtan uk.

  • quentondokkenyahoocom  On 09/09/2020 at 4:53 pm

    The oil industry flares gas because it is not as valuable as oil. This increases the companies profits.

    Offshore oil producers release toxic produced waters betting on dilution to minimize the environmental impacts. This too increases the producers profits.

    Both flaring and dumping of produced water degrade the environment.

    The original ExxonMobil/Guyana contract addressed environmental protection to “industry standards.” There is no such thing as “industry standards.” Governments set the standards and industry is expected to meet the standards or incur significant penalties. Guyana should look to the European nations and/or the United States for guidance on setting standards.

    • brandli62  On 09/10/2020 at 4:24 am

      I could not agree more with this analysis. It seems to me to be a no-brainer to have your environmental standards to follow what the EU or Norway mandates. The Guyanese government must amend their environmental laws accordingly. The clause “industry standards” is a joke. Hard to believe that they agreed to this. Even so, any new agreements have to fix this issue.

      • kamtanblog  On 09/10/2020 at 5:23 am

        Similar situ with nuclear waste water…
        Fed into rivers or sea (dumping or fly tipping) first options !

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