Build State-owned shorebases in Berbice, Essequibo after land-use policy for oil sector – APNU+AFC

Last Updated on Friday, 5 March 2021, 20:23 by Denis Chabrol

David Patterson

The opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) wants the National Assembly to approve a motion for future oil and gas shorebases to be State-owned and that they be located in Berbice and Essequibo.

“Be it further resolved that the Government inform ExxonMobil and all other Oil and Gas operators that all future shore bases shall be state owned but leased to private operators so as to ensure the maximum benefit for all Guyanese,” the coalition states.

In a motion sponsored by APNU+AFC’s David Patterson and seconded by Opposition Chief Whip, Christopher Jones, the coalition said those steps should be taken after a multi-agency task force is set up to prepare a land use policy specifically for the location of the oil and gas Sector. Such task force, the motion states, should require the task force to present its report to this Assembly, as early as possible but within six months.

In that regard, the opposition is asking the National Assembly to approve government advising ExxonMobil to suspend its Request For Information about future shorebase facilities until the task force completes its work within six months. The RFI seeks to identify which contractors can provide fully functional, fit for purpose shore base facilities to support their needs of future projects, starting 2023.

Noting that the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) and the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission and other agencies were yet to craft a holistic land use and zoning policy to provide ideal locations for industrial activities to support the Oil and Gas Industry., the coalition said the Houston, East Bank Demerara-based Guyana Shore Base Inc, the country’s lone onshore base, was originally a commercial container terminal, which was repurposed to serve the emerging oil and gas sector.

APNU+AFC said Houston, which was zoned by the CH&PA as a residential area, is now the home of most oil and gas businesses. The recommendations in the motion were also made in the context of the oil and gas sector being located between two large residential communities- Ruimveldt and Mc Doom- is affecting homes and commuters. “The increased activities have caused a build up of traffic and other encumbrances, which is a constant inconvenience to the residents and travellers,” the coalition added. The coalition said that the residents of Houston Gardens have successfully petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to disapprove permission for oil and gas activities near to their residences.

Christopher Jones.

With Guyana Shore Base Inc. being  located on the Demerara River, which is the busiest river in the country responsible for almost 90% of the containerized cargo in the country, APNU+AFC wants the House to approve advising the National Assembly for future onshore bases be in the counties of Berbice and Essequibo.

The opposition said if that is done, it would “ensure parity in development of the oil and gas industry and the equitable development across Guyana for the benefit of all citizens.” APNU+AFC says  while it is recognised that additional shore bases are needed, these must be developed as part of a macro-development plan and not be solely driven by oil sector demand forces.

The motion states that Guyana has approved three development plans for ExxonMobil (Liza I, Liza II and Payara), and additionally, the company has announced its intention to apply for a 4th development plan (Yellowtail) before the end of 2021.