Govt seeks to have greater control over use of lands by petroleum operators

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Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat

The Guyana Government is seeking an amendment of the law which would give it greater control over the use of lands, both public and private, by petroleum operators.

Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat introduced the desired revisions in the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) (Amendment) Bill 2021, to the National Assembly on Tuesday, and moved that it be read the first time.

The Bill seeks to amend Section 52 of the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act, Chapter 65:04. The section deals with restrictions on rights of licensees and surface rights.

The Bill makes amendments which speak to work done by a petroleum licensee, in aid of its operations, on State land, Government land, or land otherwise controlled or under the management of the Government of Guyana.

It allows the Minister to grant permission to the licensee to land, install or operate any pipelines or submarine, fibre optic cable or terrestrial cables or similar infrastructure, on or through the said land. The Minister would also require the licensee to maintain, inspect, repair or renew such infrastructure.

The Bill also makes amendments which speak to the granting of consent to the Minister and a petroleum licensee for use of land by the private owners or lawful occupiers of said land, in aid of petroleum operations.

The explanatory memorandum of the Bill states that it ensures the Government has oversight over the exercise of the licensee’s rights over private land.

It states further that the amendment strengthens and protects private proprietary interests as enshrined in the Constitution of Guyana.

This legal revision is being sought ahead of projects involving ExxonMobil’s local affiliate, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL).

Those are the gas-to-energy projects and the laying of a fibre optic cable linking EEPGL’s onshore and offshore facilities.

Both of those projects are being pursued in support of the PPP/C Government’s promises to improve the lives of Guyanese.

The gas-to-energy project is expected to, in the initial phase, transport 50 million cubic feet of natural gas from the Liza Phase One operation to shore, mainly for power generation purposes.

This is expected to result in a cut in the cost of power by half, improve Guyana’s investment climate and the ease of doing business, leave more disposable income with households, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

The laying of the fibre optic cable would provide connectivity which allows Government the means to monitor EEPGL’s offshore operations on the Liza Destiny floating production, storage and offloading vessel. The Government is looking to establish a data centre for this purpose, ensuring the prudent regulation and management of the most important current project of the oil and gas sector, Liza Phase One. [Extracted and Modified from DPI]