Petroleum Commission Bill among items on packed legislative agenda – Nandlall

…new legislation focused on oil production, environment also on cards

The Petroleum Commission Bill, one of several pieces of legislation that were inherited from the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government, will be among the slew of items on the Government’s legislative agenda for 2022.
Attorney General Anil Nandlall spoke of the Government’s legislative agenda on the sidelines of an event on Saturday. He pointed to the Local Content and Natural Resource Fund Bill, both of which were drafted at the Attorney General Chambers and signed into law after a parliamentary process.
According to Nandlall, they will have to create new petroleum legislation that takes into account Guyana’s current status as an oil producer. Much of Guyana’s old petroleum related legislation were enacted in the era before oil was found by ExxonMobil in 2015. And while setting up an oil refinery locally has not been on the Government’s agenda, legislation covering such a possibility is also something to consider.
“We completed the Local Content Legislation. We completed the Natural Resource Bill. Both have been enacted. We did some amendments to the Petroleum Exploration Act. We will have to work on new petroleum legislation, one that centres more on production now. Cause the one we have is really biased in favour of exploration. We have passed the stage of exploration and are now producing,” he said.
“If we move into oil refining, then we may have to have legislation governing that. Certainly, we have to look back at our Environmental Law. The Environmental Agency Act is now close to 30 years old. And by sheer passage of time, short of a review. And what makes it more compelling is that now we are an oil producer. And that, by itself, raises different environmental concerns that may not be adequately addressed in the current statutory framework. So that has to be reviewed.”
Then there is the Petroleum Commission Bill, which was initially tabled back in 2017 by then Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman during the 11th Parliament. It was to be taken to a Special Select Committee at a later sitting after its second reading. However, it was yet to be passed when the current People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government took office in 2020.
After taking office, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo had indicated that several moves were being made immediately to ensure that the oil and gas sector is effectively managed; and this includes putting skilled persons at the helm of the Commission. According to Nandlall, this bill will be reviewed.
“We have a Petroleum Commission Bill that has to be reviewed. You know that one was drafted by the previous Administration and was stuck in a select committee. We have some views on that. And we’re going to subject that to review and the subject Minister will speak more appropriately on that. So, there are many bits and pieces of legislation touching and concerning the oil and gas sector and indeed every sector. We have a packed legislative agenda for this year. And it’s begun to unfold.”
According to Nandlall, this legislative agenda outside of oil and gas includes the Condominium and Engineering Bill, new Bail, Public and Mental Health Acts, as well as a Suicide Prevention Act.
“We have in the agricultural sector, a lot of bits and pieces of legislation that will enhance our agricultural capabilities in particular, in the area of food packaging, processing and exportation, to bring us up to international standards. We have local government type legislation. So, we have legislation in almost every arena. In the legal sector, we have a packed agenda as well,” Nandlall said.