Guard against misinformation being peddled about oil & gas sector – Min Bharrat
− says some criticism of sector comes from lack of knowledge
Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat has cited the need for Guyanese to be careful when it comes to the misinformation regarding Guyana’s burgeoning oil and gas sector; misinformation, he noted, sometimes forms the basis for unnecessary criticism.
In an interview with this publication, he noted the importance of the consultations being done by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and oil giant ExxonMobil, over the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the Yellowtail development.
The Minister related that the consultations are being done to inform the population on the sector and arm them with the facts, even as criticisms that are not necessarily grounded in facts continue to proliferate the public.
“EPA is now conducting countrywide consultations on the EIA, that gives Guyanese an opportunity to raise their objections and sensitise themselves on how the oil and gas industry operates. I believe that is an issue we have in Guyana. We know the oil and gas industry is very new to us. We’re very familiar with mining, logging, agriculture and rice and cane. But when it comes to oil and gas, it is new to us.”
“So, it is ignorance of the sector that sometimes draw criticisms that are not really necessary or truthful or is not an issue that will actually affect the wellbeing of Guyanese and investments. So, we have to be careful with that. That’s why I’m happy Exxon and EPA are doing this countrywide consultation on the environmental impact of Yellowtail,” Bharrat said.
The Minister further spoke about the steps the Government has taken to work closely with Exxon through its subsidiary, Esso Exploration Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL). This has included regular meetings with the operator of the Stabroek Block
“We have technical teams that are meeting on an almost weekly basis. I myself meet with the President and his staff on a monthly basis. I know the Chairman for Exxon was in Guyana several times over the last few months. They would have met with the President and Vice President and a few Cabinet members.”
“So, we have worked towards developing a good working relationship, because we recognise that is important. We must have a good working relationship because ExxonMobil is a major player in our oil industry. So, we’ve worked hard over the past few months to build back a working relationship.”
Minister Bharrat also referenced the developments being undertaken in the Stabroek Block, such as in the Liza 1 field, where Exxon has made multiple discoveries and has already started producing oil. There is also Exxon’s upcoming Field Development Plan (FDP) for Yellowtail and the Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel for the Liza 2 development.
“Liza 2 will come on board early next year. That FPSO, the Liza Unity, will be in Guyana by yearend. And of course, we have the payara licence. And the Yellowtail development will come on board. The Payara is due in 2024, so it’s expected the Yellowtail will come shortly after that,” he said.
“After that, we’ve spoken with Exxon that the FDP will be submitted to the petroleum department sometime in the last quarter of this year, so that we can start the review of that plan, which will lead to the licensing of the yellowtail development. That is basically the process. I know in the media, there have been calls for an expeditious granting of the Yellowtail licence. We have no problem with that, but it must satisfy all the criteria.”
In March 2021, ExxonMobil secured a sixth drillship, the Noble Sam Croft, for exploration and evaluation drilling activities offshore Guyana. A fourth project, Yellowtail, has been identified within the block with anticipated start up in late 2025 pending Government approvals and project sanctioning. This project will develop the Yellowtail and Redtail fields, which are located about 19 miles (30 kilometres) southeast of the Liza developments.
With the Liza Phase 2 and Payara developments on track for their scheduled completion and the Liza Phase 1 development averaging 120,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd), Guyana’s oil production is likely to exceed 500,000 bpd by 2024.