New company to conduct environmental assessment for Exxon’s Uaru project
Acorn International, a US-based environmental and social risk management consultancy, has been selected to independently study the potential risks of ExxonMobil’s fifth project offshore Guyana, Uaru.
At a public scoping meeting for the Uaru project, held on Monday at the Umana Yana in Georgetown, members of the public were informed that Acorn International would be conducting the project’s prerequisite Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
As per Guyana’s Environmental Protection Act, every environmental assessment shall be carried out by “an independent and suitably qualified person” approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“EIAs are prepared by an independent consultant.
“For this project, that is Acorn International that has been selected by the project developer and approved by the EPA,” Grace Russell, an environmental consultant with Acorn International, said on Monday.
At that meeting, when questioned by local engineer Alfred Bhulai, Russell reiterated that the consultancy was selected by the developer. The developer for the Uaru project is Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), ExxonMobil’s local affiliate.
For EEPGL’s previous projects – Liza 1, Liza 2, Payara and Yellowtail – the independent assessments were conducted by another consultancy, Environmental Resources Management (ERM).
This company has also conducted the EIA for the forthcoming gas-to-energy project.
Because this company has been used to study five projects, concerns were raised about potential biases and the independence of the ERM.
Nevertheless, Russell explained that Acorn International aims to conduct the prerequisite assessment to help stakeholders understand the impact development at Uaru might have on the environment, people and livelihoods.
Because Uaru is Exxon’s fifth project offshore Guyana, it was noted that the cumulative impact of the five projects will be studied in the new EIA.
The ongoing scoping meetings are being used to develop the Terms of Reference for that assessment. Simply put, the scope of the EIA will be crafted based on the concerns and questions raised or submitted by stakeholders.