[www.inewsguyana.com] – Natural Resources and Environment Minister Robert Persaud says he is satisfied with the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to respond to accidents, including oil spills as Guyana vigorously pursues petroleum exploration.
He was at the time responding to questions from Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Dr. Rupert Roopnarine when he made an appearance before the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources this morning (Monday, July 14).
Persaud said the Agency along with the Ministry is constantly looking for ways to enhance capacity and capability.
“For the first time we have close to the full complement of staffers and the capacity to carry out work dealing with petroleum issues,” Persaud said, adding that “it’s a work in progress but we have come a long way.”
He said there is also external collaboration at the governmental and agency level to deal with such mishaps.
The Minister recalled a recent simulation exercise where he claimed all stakeholders were satisfied with both the national and EPA’s ability to respond to mishaps.
He said too that in worse case scenarios the onus is on the company carrying out the operations too.
The Minister and his team also updated the Committee on the companies which are currently carrying out petroleum activities and those whose applications are being considered.
Pointing to the seizure of the US Ship in the Roraima Block offshore Guyana by the Venezuelan navy on October 10, Persaud said activity in that area has been halted. He told the committee that the intrusion resulted in significant setback but noted that the government is still engaged with the company affected.
Persaud expressed optimism that the administration will resolve the matter with Venezuela soon so that the work which had already commenced could continue.
Also on the topic of petroleum exploration, the two sides explored the possibility of making it obligatory for companies to provide a level of training to employees. To this end the Minister said it is already being done informally as part of corporate social responsibility but committed to pursuing it in a more formal way.
The Guyana government in recent times has been pursing vigorously oil and gas development.