Last Updated on Friday, 26 February 2021, 21:16 by Denis Chabrol
Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat on Friday said that when the Liza 1 well licence expires, new provisions governing flaring would form part of the new permit.
Responding to A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change’s (APNU+AFC) David Patterson during debate on the 2021 National Budget debate, Mr. Bharrat said that it was the then coalition administration that had given approval for the flaring of 14 billion cubic feet of natural gas. “In the Liza production licence, which will expire next year, we will correct their wrong once again,” he said. No details were provided.
Noting that then Executive Director the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had given the ExxonMobil-controlled Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited a 20-year permit, the minister said that was “illegal.”
Earlier, Mr. Patterson told the National Assembly that House Speaker has approved an opposition-sponsored motion on flaring. With almost all of next week dedicated to the consideration of estimates of expenditure for the 2021 National Budget, the motion could possibly come up for debate during the course of next week.
The coalition insists that flaring is a violation of ExxonMobil’s permit.
Mr. Patterson welcomed the decision to green-light the motion, while pointing out that a number of changes were made. “In that debate, Sir, the opposition will further set out our position,” he said. Ahead of that debate, the former Public Infrastructure Minister castigated ExxonMobil for flaring natural gas into the atmosphere because that company was merely driven by profits. “While acknowledging that mistakes and breakdowns can occur, APNU+AFC is not satisfied with the handling of this issue by the operators, as well as the government. The response by Exxon on this issue is, quite frankly, not only disrespectful and insulting to the Guyanese public. They continue breaking the laws of the land with impunity,” he said.
The company has been sharply criticised by sections of the Guyanese society ever since its gas compressors aboard the Floating Production, Storage and Offloading vessel, Liza Destiny, have been developing problems since 2019. This second compressor has since been removed and taken back to its manufacturer in Germany for assessment and repairs.
ExxonMobil has already stated that it has been complying with Guyana’s laws.
The company has said that it has been reinjecting a large quantity of its gas back into the Liza 1 well and has been limiting production.