Following more than seven hours of contentious debate by government and opposition members of parliament, the modernized Petroleum Activities Bill 2023 was passed in the National Assembly, this morning.
The Bill was tabled by Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat and will replace the 1986 Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act Cap. 65:04 and the Petroleum (Production) Act Cap 65:05.
Presenting on the Bill, Minister Bharrat underscored that it is no secret that Guyana’s oil and gas industry is moving at a rapid pace. As such, the subject minister stated that it is only fitting that the legislation surrounding the sector is overhauled.
The purpose of the Bill is to intensify regulation on the exploration, production, storage, and transportation of petroleum in Guyana; and other activities related to the oil and gas sector in Guyana.
The Bill creates the platform for the creation of an oil refinery in Guyana in the future, and also comes with a unitization agreement clause.
Minister Bharrat noted that the Government also made provisions in the Bill for decommissioning. “To ensure that the operators bear the responsibility of the decommissioning process, this bill will set up a decommissioning fund,” he added.
“The 1986 Act speaks mostly towards exploration production. Now we’re adding new dimensions, to regulate licenses for storage and transportation of hydrocarbons, and as I would have mentioned earlier, the geological storage license for carbon dioxide and geological survey, as well as geophysical survey permits, was also added to this Bill,” the minister said.
It was also stated that the changes that were drafted reflect the seriousness of the Government’s commitment to maintain the environment while being an oil producing nation. Minister Bharrat noted that with the government embarking on the Gas-to-Energy project, the Bill comes at an opportune time as it caters for the smooth implementation and functioning of the project.
He highlighted that both the previous administration and the Government had often overlooked the gas sector and focused more on the oil sector. However, he said the new Bill would facilitate the utilization and monetization of the country’s gas reserves.
Additionally, the minister underscored, “These are some of the safeguards, some of the mechanisms that we put in place to manage the sector, because we know that this sector is important and must be managed properly, otherwise we can go down the road like many other oil producing countries.”
Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) David Patterson had tabled a motion to make amendments to the Bill however, following two voting rounds the amendments were rejected and all 98 clauses of the Bill were approved.