Even as negotiations over the Payara Field Development Plan (FDP) continue between the PPP/C Administration and ExxonMobil, Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo was keen to note that this will not be the only opportunity for Guyana to get what it wants on the environmental front from the company.
At the moment, the Payara FDP is held up over discussions on removing loopholes to allow flaring as well as ensuring the Floating Production Storage and Offloading Vessel for the project is built with systems to allow for the proper disposal of produced water. (Produced water is the liquid that accompanies oil when it is being extracted. It can have various levels of toxicity but its impact on the environment has to be determined by extensive studies.)
During a press conference that was held yesterday, Dr. Jagdeo said that he does not want to telegraph the government’s position on where these matters are but he was keen to note that Exxon and the Government of Guyana do not see eye to eye on issues related to the Payara license. The Vice President said, “We have differences and I do not want to telegraph what may be our final position. But let me just say generically that we don’t favour flaring. We’re opposed to flaring. And secondly, that we believe that any water discharged, whether reinjected or discharged must be treated to international standards…”
The Vice President added, “But these are generic positions. We see this as a continuum. Exxon is not gonna disappear tomorrow. The Payara license is not the only opportunity that we have to get what the President said we wanted and what the PPP campaigned on, which is an industry that benefits the investor but significantly, benefits Guyanese, our people through jobs, business opportunities, etc…There are numerous opportunities in this continuum.”
In this regard, Dr. Jagdeo who is tasked with oversight responsibility for the oil sector said there will come a time when the government will hold discussions about local content and accompanying legislation. He said too that there would be another negotiating opportunity when talks are held about the development of gas fields, the price for gas, how much of it comes onshore, and how it will benefit the people. The official asserted as well that the government is eager to engage in a discourse on training opportunities for locals.
“So I don’t see this and the government doesn’t see this as Payara is the make-or-break,” the Vice President concluded.