Gov’t says all legal requirements were met for petroleum licence

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The Guyana Government Friday afternoon responded to an international report of a legal challenge being mounted against ExxonMobil and partners who are expected to start drilling for oil in two years.

The Guardian – an international news agency – reported on Thursday that Guyanese campaigners plan on legally challenging certain licenses granted to ExxonMobil and its partners Hess Corporation and Nexen.

The campaigners are quoted as saying that the granting of licences to drill by the government was illegal.

The article explained that a licence to drill can only be granted if an environmental permit has been obtained by the company involved.

The campaigners are contending that only one of the three companies was granted an environmental permit.

But Guyana’s Ministry of Natural Resources in a statement said it is satisfied that the oil companies are taking every precaution in ensuring that there is minimal effect to the environment and that they are diligently putting systems in place to guard against any spills or mishaps.

The Ministry also noted that it will continue to engage its partners to ensure that the interest of Guyana’s waters and environment remain top priorities.

Nonetheless, the Ministry said it respects the right of every citizen to seek recourse in law and said that the Guyana Government is prepared to present all facts in any court with jurisdiction.

One of the campaigners, Ramon Gaskin, said the matter was filed in the High Court two weeks ago but a favourable decision was not granted.

See full statement from the Ministry below

The Ministry of Natural Resources notes an article in the UK Guardian of March 22, 2018, under the headline ‘Guyanese campaigners mount legal challenge against three oil giants’.

Firstly, the Government of Guyana wishes to emphatically reaffirm that it zealously guards and defends the right of every citizen to seek recourse in law in pursuit of interests they believe to be worthy. Equally the Government of Guyana is certain, as it is confident, that every action it took with regard to the issuance of the petroleum production license met all legal requirements.

The Government of Guyana is prepared and willing to present all facts in this regard to any court with jurisdiction.

The Ministry of Natural Resources notes that this sort of action is not unusual in emerging oil economies, particularly during the stage leading up to first oil at which Guyana currently is. The Ministry is satisfied that its partners engaged in exploration and preparation for production are taking every precaution in ensuring that there is minimal effect to the environment and that they are diligently putting systems in place to guard against any spills or mishaps.

The Ministry further assures all Guyanese, and the world at large, that it will continue to engage its partners – ExxonMobil, Hess and CNOOC Nexen – in ensuring that the interest of Guyana’s waters and environment remain top priorities as we pursue exploitation of Guyana’s natural resources with a view to fast track Guyana’s social, infrastructural and economic development.

The Ministry calls on all Guyanese to remain vigilant and interested in ensuring that Guyana’s patrimony, in every regard, is protected and also to act in the best interest of the future development of this generation and generations to follow. No longer must Guyana be indefinitely consigned to third world status and its people languish in less than desirable circumstances. We must join forces, as a nation, to ensure that every Guyanese enjoys the good life by the dint of hard work and the responsible exploitation of our nation’s God-given resources.

 

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