LETTER: Release of Payara contract/licence is the hallmark of transparency and accountability

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Dear Editor,

It is refreshing to be a Guyanese currently noting the groundbreaking developments within the oil-and-gas sector which will catapult Guyana to economic stardom in the next few years. Equally significant is the release of the recently signed contract/licence between the Government of Guyana and ExxonMobil, to further the development of the Payara offshore oil well, touted as the largest single investment in the history of Guyana.

Therefore, I wish to publicly congratulate the President of Guyana, His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Ifraan Alli; Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, and the man who made the contract available to the public, Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat. This is the new age of leadership that Guyana needs to overcome its sluggish economic performance and be prepared for the phenomenal infrastructural and financial upliftment of ALL Guyanese.

The current way of doing business in Guyana has significantly improved in the short two months from the shady and highly secretive way things were done under the previous APNU/AFC Government. No wonder they bend their heads in shame and silence as a result of their failure to effectively manage and negotiate oil contracts for the benefit of all Guyanese.

Notwithstanding, there will always be the naysayers, and I predict the “oil and gas doomsday naysayers” will soon crawl out of their holes of irrelevance to seek attention.

Editor, I am an avid environmentalist, and I am fully aware of the challenges relating to oil-and-gas exploration, and equally so the potential disasters. However, I am of the firm belief that due diligence has been taken into consideration by the current Government to safeguard Guyana’s marine life and abundant coastlands; to ensure our oil and gas resources are sustainably managed; and to ensure that everything is environmentally safe.

This brings us back to the release of the Payara contract/licence, which is the hallmark of transparency and accountability. I believe it has blindsided the critics, but not for long. I am sure they are recuperating from the shock of the contract being released, and will soon recommence criticising for criticism’s sake.

In moving forward, two important takeaways from my perusal of the Payara contract are:

“Routine flaring of gas by the Licensee is strictly prohibited without approval. Flaring is only permissible under the following conditions defined in the Licensee’s Environmental Permit”, and: “The Licensee shall update its base design for the Project to include (i) tie in points and (ii) space for produced water injection equipment. Within thirty (30) days of the date of Environmental Permit, the Licensee shall submit to the Minister an EPA for approval.”

Besides the other fines, penalties and compliance clauses, I believe the two points above are most critical for the sustainable development of the Payara Offshore Oil Well, in keeping with international best practices towards environmental accountability and transparency.

In summary, the current administration has outshone the previous Government with transparency, accountability and safeguard measures in the Payara Approval Licence, to not only protect marine life and Guyana’s coast, but secure the interest of ALL Guyanese.

Kudos to the Natural Resources Minister and his team! We are all indebted for your due diligence in the Payara Licence.

Sincerely,

Kenneth David (Sr)