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Jagdeo justifies Wales location for gas-to-energy project, associated industries

Last Updated on Tuesday, 9 February 2021, 21:34 by Denis Chabrol

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo said government decided to shift the proposed gas to shore project from Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) to Wales in Region Three (West Demerara-Essequibo Islands which is less populated and has a larger swathe of land suitable for the gas plant and associated industries.

Early calculations show that when the estimated US$500 million to US$800 million pipeline- depending on the design and geotechnical designs – and the estimated US$300 million power plant comes on stream, Guyanese would pay as little as 6 US cents per kilowatt hour compared to a current rate of about 30 US cents per kilowatt hour, with commercial and technical losses,  “so you’re looking at a significant reduction in energy cost.”

Under the then coalition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition-led administration, sites at Mahaica and Ogle, East Coast Demerara and Crab Island, Berbice River has been touted as possible locations for the gas to energy project, but Mr. Jagdeo said on regaining power in August 2020, “we made a conscious decision” not to take the project to Ogle because that corridor is set for major development”, the land at Mahaica is privately-owned and costly and Region Four was not environmentally feasible. “A lot of the industries we have to place around the oil and gas facility might be industries that would be a bit polluting and, therefore, to bring that so close to the City  and the population centre will be disastrous.”

Mr. Jagdeo promised to share the comparative figures between the two areas- Crab Island and Wales.

He said the gas pipeline from the offshore oilfields in the Stabroek Block is expected to land onshore in mid to late 2023 and steps were being taken to conduct environmental impact assessment, geotechnical, geophysical and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) studies. LIDAR uses light-based techniques to measure variable distance to the Earth. Mr. Jagdeo said government was creating a masterplan for Wales to determine where exactly the gas pipeline would land, location of the gas drying facilities, location of the power plant and the industries that are needed in the area and essential chemical industries would be located “far away from where people live.”

Mr. Jagdeo sought to assure the residents of Region Three that their lives would not be affected by pollutants from the gas plant and associated industries to the wide land mass where those plants would be located away from residential areas. “All of the industries there also have to meet some environmental standards, notwithstanding you putting them at at Wales and because there is so much land…Wales, the estate runs deep into areas where they don’t have houses. It’s not close to the roadside, then you can put a lot of those industries there where the contiguous zones don’t have settlements,” said Mr. Jagdeo. He added that the environmental impact assessments would have to be done to ensure that there are measures in place to mitigate the impact of pollutants on the environment.

No decision has been taken about whether the natural gas energy and related industries would be managed by the Wales Development Authority or central government.

The zoning of Wales is also expected to include provisions for the construction of value-added agro industries, he said.