Georgetown, Guyana

For Immediate Release from all media houses.

February 4, 2021

AFC Press Statement on Gas Flaring

Staying steadfast to its commitment to protect the health, safety and environment of the people of Guyana, the AFC is dumbfounded by the PPP/C’s uninformed decision complicit with Esso Exploration Guyana Limited (EEPGL) to continue flaring. This is not in the best interest of Guyana and continues in the face of wanton and extremely excessive flaring of natural gas produced by EEPGL.

It is highly disturbing that the PPP/C would now so uncaringly reverse the Coalition’s previous mandate that allowed only minimum flaring and minimum oil production necessary for stable operations, in difficult conditions such as the current compressor failure. Whether through ignorance, incompetence, negligence, or just share indifference to the wellbeing of Guyana’s health, safety and the environment, it is rather embarrassing for the Honourable Minister Bharat Jagdeo to appear to be pleading with EEPGL to fix the equipment as soon as possible; while at the same time, unlike the past Coalition Government, callously allowing them to continue to flare at its maximum capacity of over 100,000 cubic feet of natural gas per day.

Based upon complaints from the news media concerning the lack of transparency at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its refusal to respond to inquiries on this matter, it is obvious that the PPP/C Government has now brazenly muzzled this most important Agency, regressing it back to its pre 2015 way of conducting business in being totally controlled by politicians and barred from making independent technical decisions as mandated by the law of the land.

The APNU+AFC Coalition calls on the Government to remove their stranglehold on the EPA’s decision making and transparency process and return it to the model set by the coalition Government, allowing it to be requisite autonomous and independent and to effectively carryout its legislative mandate without undue political interference. If the Honourable Minister had consulted with the Coalition, he would have learnt that this incident was is nothing less than negligence and is totally avoidable. Minister Jagdeo should be aware that the EPA Permit specifically prohibits flaring under normal operations, and the failure of a major piece of equipment cannot be considered normal operation. His injudicious appeasement has allowed EEPGL to continue full production and maximum flaring dispersing over a whopping 12 Billion cubic feet of gas in the first year into our atmosphere comprising over 250 pollutants to be gushed into our clean air.

This is especially shocking when considering EEPGL’s hollow promise to have zero flaring from day one.

The Minister would have learnt that his aiding and abetting of EEPGL’s poor performance, flies in the face of the best interest of the people represented by the Coalition’s previously bending over backwards in accommodating this exact same failure for over one year at a heavy cost to Guyana’s environment and the people’s health. As a consequence, the Coalition Government directed the cut back on gas flaring to the minimum (about 10% of maximum) needed for stable operations and EEPGL was in full compliance with this until now, as allowed by the Honourable Minister.

Most importantly, Minister Jagdeo should have learnt that in accordance with the Coalition Government’s policy, production must never take precedence over protection of the people’s health, safety and environment. He would have also been reminded of this Government’s brisk reversal of the Coalition’s regulation regarding the process, which is consistent with that of the USA’s, which allows flaring for up to two days after start-up following shutdowns of this nature, as opposed to the 60 days allowed by the current Government. This contemptuous attitude of the Government towards its own people in bowing down to EEPGL’s demands in putting oil production ahead of health, safety and the environment, and reversing the strict policies and safeguards put in place by the Coalition Administration, can only serve to sabotage the past five years of progress favouring Guyana’s green image and ability to promote and build a sustainable, low-carbon economy. It is very disappointing that this Government appears to accept EEPGL’s insulting position that suggests it is okay to flare at maximum capacity because Guyana is a carbon sink and therefore has the capacity to absorb more pollutants. ExxonMobil’s global commitment to reduce flaring from 2016 levels by 20 per cent in 2020, so as to reduce its greenhouse gas footprint, is in stark conflict with their flaring activities in Guyana.

The APNU+AFC Coalition wishes to make it clear that it has always been and will always be supportive of oil and gas development in Guyana, as evidenced by our highly successful accomplishment of first oil, in a safe and environmentally sound manner, several months ahead of schedule. However, we wish to assure the citizens of Guyana that we will continue to put their interest first in making sure that production does not trump the protection of their health, safety and the environment. END