The Civil Defence Commission (CDC) this morning, opened an Oil Spill Planning and Readiness Assessment workshop, which is aimed at finalising the Contingency Planning and Implementation of the Oil Pollution Preparedness Response and Cooperation (OPRC) Convention for key public and private players in the local oil and gas sector.
The first workshop was held in March at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre (ACCC) to provide stakeholders with a detailed understanding of the National Oil Spill Response Contingency Plan and the requirements, policy and procedures for implementation of a national oil spill response.
Out of that first workshop, a recommendation was made for another session be held to finalise the assessment of national readiness for oil spills before implementation can take place.
CDC Director General, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig said the workshop has been organised to complete the assessment so that systematic gaps, lead agencies and deadlines can be identified and established.
He also said that the CDC aims to create a sustainable disaster risk management system; noting that as Guyana advances towards becoming an oil producing territory, the probability of oil spills increases significantly. Therefore, simultaneous plans and actions are taking place.
Lieutenant Colonel Craig also commended the stakeholders at the workshop for their commitment and recognition of the need for collaboration.
“We are here today, to take steps to formally develop a national mechanism for Oil Spill Preparedness and Response. Over the last couple of months, a number of steps were taken in advancing the oil spill response mechanism. Primarily at the legislative level, the Department of Energy (DoE) is working with the relevant stakeholders, international bodies and countries to devise and develop new legislation for Oil Spill response. At the CDC, we are currently developing a Disaster Risk Management Bill and we are ensuring that provisions are also made for Oil Spill response and preparedness,” he said.
Lieutenant Colonel Craig noted that the Bill is being drafted by international experts and during this week, it would be available on the CDC’s website and sent to all stakeholders so that they can make recommendations for its enhancement and improvement.
“It is our hope that we can have this Bill ready by the end of this year. Apart from the Bill, what you would find happening is that the Working Group for Oil Spill Response continues to meet every week to further develop the Oil Spill Response Plan. We have drafted a general aspect of that plan, which covers the competent national authority, the CDC, outlines roles and responsibilities, and so forth. As it relates to the roles and responsibilities, we have identified who are responsible for detection and monitoring; what and who is responsible for reporting, assessments and response. We are hoping to have a good draft of this by June 30, 2019,” he further said.
The Director General said that apart from planning, the Commission is also working to acquire resources to ensure that all key agencies are equipped to deal with any adverse effects of the oil sector. “Right now, there are four containers of oil spill resources that has been procured by the DoE and which will be handed over to the CDC. It is our intention to take these and hand it over to the necessary agencies. We are also trying to procure other materials and very soon, the CDC would be meeting with key agencies to see what are some of the resources that they require because we are not just buying materials; we are buying what is most needed,” he asserted.
The workshop caters to national stakeholders drawn from agencies such as the Guyana Energy Agency, Protected Areas Commission, Guyana Marine Conservation Society, Guyana Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission, Maritime Administration Department (MARAD), Guyana Defence Force, the Guyana Coast Guard, the Maritime Administration Department, Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, Aircraft Owners’ Association and the Guyana Red Cross Society. [Modified from the Ministry of the Presidency]