ExxonMobil’s Country Manager, Rod Henson, has said that the company is “absolutely prepared” to respond within hours in the unfortunate event of an oil spill; and in fact is doing “everything possible” to ensure an oil spill never occurs.
Exxon and its partners are currently developing the Liza field, located in the Stabroek Block, for oil production by 2020. According to the Department of Public Information (DPI), Henson acknowledged that the preservation of the environment is a “sensitive topic” for Guyana but assured that the company is “putting in a tremendous amount of effort to ensure this (an oil spill) never happens”.
Henson recently discredited “misinformation” on the company’s preparedness to respond in the event of an oil spill. “I know that there are some questions out there because there is some misinformation about readiness. I heard the statement that, “because the chance of a spill is remote, ExxonMobil doesn’t see the need to be ready and that is just utter nonsense, utter nonsense”, he was quoted by DPI as saying.
“Our response is multi-tiered and we have trained individuals and equipment on the drilling rig today, on the vessels that support the drilling rig today, and have had for years and we’ll have equipment and trained people on the Liza Destiny when we start production in 2020, so we can respond in a matter of hours,” Henson explained.
In addition to this, the Exxon Country Manager noted that company has existing contracts with globally recognised experts that can respond quickly.
Exxon is also part of the National Oil Spill Committee working with the Guyana Civil Defence Commission (CDC) and other stakeholders to develop a new National Oil Spill Plan. “When that new plan comes in place we’ll bridge to that new plan to ensure that we work smoothly together,” Henson said.
Additionally, Exxon has been building the capacity of public government agencies, NGOs and the private sector. Since 2015 the company has been facilitating training opportunities to these entities. In 2017, Exxon facilitated two sets of oil spill response training, the most recent being University Spill Management.
Henson said Exxon is committed to protecting Guyana’s rich biodiversity as it mines one of the country’s newest natural resources, according to DPI.