Guyana is preparing to host Exercise Tradewinds in June 2020 and Director General of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig wants the operation to feature an oil spill response component.
Currently, the CDC is finalizing Guyana’s first National Oil Spill Response Plan and Craig said Exercise Tradewinds will be ideal to test the plan.
Exercise Tradewinds is a U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM)-sponsored maritime security and disaster response exercise executed annually to strengthen the security of the Caribbean Region.
During a recent interview, Craig explained that, “About 21 countries will be represented in Guyana during exercise trade winds and you will also have the US South command (SOUTHCOM) coming to Guyana and currently we are working with them to ensure that one of the scenarios is an oil spill response scenario, so in the event that something happens we have all the mechanisms and systems and people, who are well-trained, in place.”
Apart from that, he said a lot of work is being done to train locals on how to react in situations of an oil spill.
He explained, “We have volunteers, who we are training. We are also training and equipping our staff and we have a lot of agencies and representatives that are trained and equipped to deal with any such eventuality.”
On the issue of Guyana’s National Oil Spill Response Plan, Craig said a team of twelve persons drawn from CDC, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Guyana Energy Agency, Maritime Administration, Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency are working to have the plan ready by the end of the year.
The plan is ninety percent complete.
The Director General boasts that at the end of the finalisation process, Guyana will have a holistic oil spill plan in place.
“Our plan caters for both onshore and offshore oil spill and most of the other plans that we have seen only caters for offshore oil spills,” he said.
Craig pointed out that he is also pleased with the level of enthusiasm being shown by Guyanese in this process.
“People are generally committed. The volunteers are generally committed. Anytime we call on them for a training opportunity, they come without hesitation,” he stated.
It was noted that companies engaged in oil and gas exploration activities in the Guyana basin are also required to have an oil spill plan,which must be approved by the CDC.
In the event of a spill offshore, each operator is responsible for responding and managing that spill.
Before the end of October, the CDC will host a broader stakeholder engagement on the National Oil Spill Response Plan.