High Court Judge, Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry has approved applications by Attorney General, Anil Nandlall and ExxonMobil’s affiliate, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) to defend their respective interests in a case seeking to quash the environmental permit that was granted for the gas-to-energy project.

The said case was filed on March 27, 2023 by Guyanese activists Vanda Radzik and Elizabeth Hughes against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It seeks to nullify the EPA’s decision to issue Environmental Permit No. 20210528-NGPLE to EEPGL to undertake the gas-to-energy project and activities associated therewith.

The Applicants grounded this challenge on the basis that at the time the permit was issued, November 25, 2022, EEPGL purportedly did not have the requisite permission to conduct the activities on the lands for the gas pipeline route to the power plant.

On May 10, 2023, Nandlall and EEPGL applied to the Court to be added as parties to the said legal proceedings.

In his application, the Attorney General contended inter alia that the State has a substantial interest in the decision under challenge and will be adversely affected by a judgment quashing the permit. The AG contended that such a decision would place the government in a position of breach in relation to contracts already entered into for the project.

According to the AG, in December 2022, the Government of Guyana (GOG) entered into an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract with CH4-Lindsayca for a 300 megawatts (MW) power plant and a natural gas liquids (NGL) plant to the tune of US$759 million.

He also noted that the total investment in this project is in the vicinity of US$1.7B and includes all associated project costs incurred under  respective contracts by the government, its contractors, operators and co -enturers. Further, the AG said in accordance with the Acquisition of Lands for Public Purposes Act Cap 62:02 government acquired lands required for the project and has entered into agreements for compensation with the affected property  owners.

If the permit is nullified, he argued that the State would likely attract liabilities under the contracts outlined, while adding that the public interest and the State’s fiscal interests would be adversely affected. He said too that the State’s developmental trajectory in respect of the generation of low-cost electricity for Guyana and ultimately the realization of a lower cost of living for Guyanese would be disrupted.

In EEPGL’s application, it noted that there was an agreement with government and the Stabroek Block partners (which includes Hess and CNOOC) to transport and supply natural gas from the Liza Phase One and Liza Phase Two projects via a 12” (twelve inch) to government’s onshore facilities.

According to EEPGL, $US206M was expended in design and construction works for the p[roject and an additional $US762M is expected to complete and commission the pipeline element. EEPGL contends that it committed this substantial investment in reliance on  the real and substantial rights accruing or derived from the Environmental Permit issued by the EPA and the Petroleum Agreement. It contended therefore that it cannot be lawfully deprived of the rights accruing or derived from the  Environmental Permit without due process.

Justice Sewnarine-Beharry subsequently upheld the foregoing submissions and ordered that they be added as parties to the matter.

Guyana Standard understands that the Attorney General appeared in person along with Shoshanna Lall, Assistant Solicitor General; Patricia Shepherd and Laurel Dundas, State Counsel.

The Applicants were represented by Seenath Jairam SC, Abiola Wong, Attorney-at-Law.

Edward Luckhoo SC, Andrew Pollard SC and Eleanor Luckhoo appeared for EEPGL.


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