Judge orders Exxon to lodge US$2B oil spill guarantee, grants stay of execution on previous ruling

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Shikema Dey
Experienced Journalist with a demonstrated history of working in the media production industry and a keen interest in oil and gas, energy, public infrastructure, agriculture, social issues, development and the environment.

Guyana’s Appellate Court on Thursday granted ExxonMobil and its co-venturers a stay to the Supreme Court judgment that required it to provide an unlimited Parent Company Guarantee Agreement/or Affiliate Company Guarantee Agreement. 

Failure to comply would have resulted in the suspension of the Liza 1 Environmental Permit and a halt of operations at the development site. 

Justice Rishi Persaud in his judgment cited an affidavit from ExxonMobil Guyana President Alistair Routledge, outlining that the loss of revenue to the state of Guyana may have “serious implications and devastating consequences in the event of a permit suspension.” 

“The seeming uncertainty as to what an unlimited assurance may entail and the timeframe ordered to provide such an assurance makes this event likely,” he highlighted. “The prejudicial effects are palpable,” Justice Rishi said. 

EPA consulted multiple established jurisdictions to determine guarantee from Exxon | OilNOW 

The Appeal Court Judge ruled that the interest of justice “clearly mandates” a stay of execution, pending the determination of the appeal. 

“It is generally accepted or ought to be that the event of a well blowout or some sort of associated environmental disaster is unlikely,” he said. 

The Judge only stayed the High Court order that requires the Unlimited Guarantee to be provided. He noted that all other orders are in effect which means that the EPA and Exxon are still in breach of the Liza 1 Environmental Permit. 

Few oil execs would want to take on unlimited financial risk, expert says | OilNOW 

He ordered that Exxon lodge the US$2 billion guarantee to the EPA within 10 days of the ruling. Failure to do so would amount to the dismissal of the stay. 

The Supreme Court ruling was handed down by Justice Sandil Kissoon on May 3. That case was filed by Attorneys-at-Law, Seenath Jairam SC and Melinda Janki on behalf of Guyanese activists, Godfrey Whyte and Frederick Collins.

Justice Kissoon had granted several declarations, including that the EPA failed to enforce compliance by EEPGL of its Financial Assurance obligations to provide an unlimited Parent Company Guarantee Agreement and/or Affiliate Company Guarantee Agreement to indemnify and keep indemnified the EPA and the Government of Guyana against all environmental obligations of the Permit Holder (EEPGL) and Co-Venturers (Hess and CNOOC) within the Stabroek Block.

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