EPA approves environmental permit for Gas-to-Shore Project

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Artist’s impression of the gas-to-shore project

After several rounds of consultations and intense review of the project over the past months, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Administration’s model Gas-to-Shore initiative.

The project includes the construction of a 300-megawatt power plant, a natural gas transport pipeline, materials offloading facility and Natural Gas Liquids (NGL) Plant at Wales, West Bank Demerara.

According to the EPA in a notice, the environmental permit was approved in accordance with Section 12 of the Environmental Protection Act, Cap 20:05.

The grounds for the approval include the fact that the Environmental Assessment Board reviewed and declared the Environmental Impact Statement and Environmental Impact Assessment related to this project, acceptable pursuant to Section 11 (13) of the Environmental Protection Act, Cap 20:05.

Moreover, the agency explained that it was satisfied that the project can be conducted in accordance with good environmental practices, and in a manner that avoids, prevents and minimises any adverse effects which could result from the activity.

“The technical reviews and recommendations from a team of independent international experts, the public inputs at the scoping stage, views expressed by members of the public during consultations, the submissions made after the EIA was submitted for public review, and all other relevant considerations, indicate that the project is environmentally-sound and in the public’s interest,” the EPA further indicated in its notice.

This approval by the EPA comes just over two weeks after Cabinet give its no objection to the selection of the CH4 Guyana Inc/Lindsayca Inc consortium to construct the combined cycle power plant and NGL plant as part of the Gas-to-Shore Project.

In an announcement on November 10, President Dr Irfaan Ali had revealed that CH4/Lindsayca was the number one-ranked group to build the two plants under an Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) contract.

According to the Head of State, negotiations were slated to commence immediately with the United States-Guyanese consortium and be wrapped up by the end of this month in order for the signing of the contract.

Power China was ranked number two, and could be engaged if negotiations fail with Lindsayca.

At total of nine firms were publicly pre-qualified to bid on the EPC contract, and Request for Proposals (RFP) were issued to these bidders. By September, five bids were submitted, of which the CH4/Lindsayca consortium was the highest bidder with US$898.76 million.

Apart from the power plant and NGL plant, the scope of US$900 million Gas-to-Shore Project, which has a 25-year lifespan, also consists of the construction of 225 kilometres of pipeline from the Liza field in the Stabroek Block offshore Guyana, where ExxonMobil and its partners are currently producing oil.

Approximately 220 kilometres of subsea pipeline offshore will run from the Liza Destiny and Unity floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels in the Stabroek Block to the shore. Upon landing on the West Coast Demerara shore, the pipeline will continue for approximately 25 kilometres to the NGL plant at Wales.

Exxon, with funding from cost oil, is expected to deliver the completed pipeline by the fourth quarter of next year, in order to allow for the commissioning and testing ahead of the power plant coming online by the end of 2024.

The pipeline would be 12 inches wide, and is expected to transport some 50 million standard cubic feet (mscfpd) of dry gas per day to the NGL plant, but has the capacity to push as much as 120 mscfpd. The route of the pipeline onshore would follow the same path as the fibreoptic cables, and would terminate at Hermitage, part of the Wales Development Zone (WDZ) where the Gas-to-Shore Project would be housed.

At present, Government is engaged in negotiations with landowners who will be affected by the project, with a view to offering them appropriate compensation in exchange for their properties.

While the Guyana Government would own the 300MW power plant and NGL plant, it would be recruiting an international firm to operate the project to international standards and best practices.

The PPP/C Administration is confident that this gas-to-energy project would significantly slash electricity costs in Guyana by at least half of what currently obtains.