In the midst of all the noise surrounding full coverage insurance for oil spills, there is one key message that puts the government and its critics, on the same page—Exxon must be made to handle all costs associated with any environmental disaster it causes.

This much was underscored by Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo today during an engagement with members of the media at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre. The official said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and stakeholders such as former EPA Head, Dr. Vincent Adams have been going back and forth on the matter of insurance coverage from ExxonMobil. While there are differing components of the arguments proffered by each side, Jagdeo said both are actually fighting for the same cause. Jagdeo reminded that according to Guyana’s laws, Exxon must handle all costs for clean-up and restoration from any disaster. He said too that this is also enshrined into the permits for all of Exxon’s Stabroek Block projects.

The Vice President said the issue at hand is to get an instrument that represents the foregoing, adding that part of it has already been secured. In this regard, he noted that Exxon’s subsidiary, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) has already provided insurance coverage for up to US$600M per pollution event.

“The second aspect is getting a parent guarantee to cover the full liability. The EPA has been in discussion with Exxon because they believe the events may not exceed US$2B and they are working on that. They have asked the companies (Exxon and partners) to provide a study as to what they believe this liability can be…but we believe there has to be full coverage, they have to take responsibility for total clean-up and restoration. We are committed to ensuring there is an appropriate instrument to cover the country. That is what we are working on,” the Vice President stated.

Jagdeo said too that there is also the additional safeguard in that the local company, EEPGL, has about US$7B in assets which could be liquidated and utilized as the country deems fit.




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