High Court Judge dismisses 2nd attempt to stall Gas-to-Energy project

Right Activist Danuta Radzik

The second attempt by Rights Activist Danuta Radzik to stall the Gas-to-Energy project at Wales, West Bank Demerara (WBD) has been dismissed by Justice Simone Morris-Ramlal on Friday at the Demerara High Court.
Further, the judge has ordered Radzik to pay $200,000 in costs to the Environmental Assessment Board (EAB).
ExxonMobil applied with the EPA, on June 24, 2021, seeking leave to be granted the facility of an environmental permit. The permit was granted on November 25, 2022, and, in unornamented terms, the oil company was allowed to develop a Gas-to-Energy Project pipeline from Nouvelle Flanders, West Coast Demerara (WCD) to Wales Estate, West Bank Demerara (WBD).
On May 22, 2023, Radzik’s sister Vanda Radzik had challenged the EAB’s decision to uphold the EPA’s waiver of the requirement for an Environmental Impact Assessment for the Gas to Shore Project. That challenge was dismissed on September 6, 2023. In that case, Radzik had sought to have the decision by the EPA: to grant the environmental permit to ExxonMobil, judicially reviewed on the basis that the company’s application failed to conform with the requirements set out in Regulation 17(2)(c)(ii) of the Environmental Protection (Authorisations) Regulations (EPAR).
Justice Sewnarine-Beharry, who presided over that hearing, refused all reliefs and orders claimed by Radzik, concluding that no public good can come from granting them. In her decision, however, she highlighted those orders relating to the proposed gas pipeline route, clearly establishing that as of January 23, 2023, the lands described therein were privately owned, hence the need to compulsorily acquire them.
Despite this determination, Justice Sewnarine-Beharry stated that there is no proof that Radzik was personally wronged by the EPA’s choice to grant the permit.
This time, Danuta Radzik filed a second action, on November 23, 2023, challenging the same decision by the EAB. That action has been dismissed by Justice Morris-Ramlal on Friday, and she ruled that there was an “inordinate” delay, and that the rights of third parties would be affected.
During the 2023 trial, ExxonMobil had argued that the applicant’s interpretation of Regulation 17(2)(c)(ii) of the Environmental Protection (Authorisations) Regulations ignored its clear language.
Regulation 17(2)(c)(ii) of the EPAR provides that an application for an environmental authorisation must contain: “proof that the applicant either owns the facility, or has a lease or other agreement with the landowner or occupier to enable the applicant to conduct the activity on the facility, or has the legal right or ability to conduct the activity without the consent of the landowner or occupier.”
Nevertheless, the oil giant averred that as part of its application process for the environmental permit, it was enjoined to provide proof to the EPA that it has the legal right or ability to conduct the activity without the consent of the landowner or occupier, which it did.
The company submitted that, on June 24, 2021, it submitted an updated application to EPA which, inter alia, indicated that the Government would be acquiring the lands necessary for the project.
The scope of Guyana’s Gas-to-Energy project consists of the construction of 225 kilometres of pipeline from the Liza field in the Stabroek Block offshore Guyana, where ExxonMobil and its partners are currently producing oil. It features approximately 200 kilometres of a subsea pipeline offshore that would run from Liza Destiny and Liza Unity FPSO vessels in the Stabroek Block to the shore. Upon landing on the West Coast Demerara shore, the pipeline would continue for approximately 25 kilometres to the Natural Gas Liquid (NGL) plant at Wales.
The pipeline would be 12 inches wide, and is expected to transport per day some 50 million standard cubic feet (mscfpd) of dry gas to the NGL plant, but it can push as much as 120 mscfpd.
The pipeline’s route onshore would follow the same path as the fibre-optic cables, and would terminate at Hermitage, part of the Wales Development Zone (WDZ), which would house the gas-to-shore project (integrated NGL plant and the 300-megawatt (MW) Combined Cycle Power Plant).
The NGL and 300MW power plant components of the gas-to-shore project are meanwhile expected to cost US$759.8 million, and would be financed through sources that include budgets and loan financing.
Investment in this project is in the vicinity of US$1,700,000,000 and includes all associated project costs incurred under respective contracts by the Government, its contractors, operators, and coventurers.