NRG Holdings Incorporated conducted community engagements on March 25-26 for its landmark Port of Vreed-en-Hoop project. Residents from surrounding communities were given the opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns on the potential impact of the development. The activity was held in the conference room of the Region Three Department of Education.
NRG Holdings Inc. is a 100-percent Guyanese-owned consortium comprising Hadi’s World Incorporated, National Hardware Limited and ZRN Investments Incorporated. Their Port of Vreed-en-Hoop project is a US$600 million investment. The facility will occupy some 400 hectares of coastal land. It is expected to be a catalyst for employment and business opportunities for Guyanese. The consortium has partnered with Jan de Nul Group, a Belgian engineering and construction firm which offers marine services, offshore service, civil engineering, environmental management activities and project development.
Managing Director of National Hardware, Nicholas Deygoo-Boyer highlighted the importance of such a facility to Guyana’s economic development. “A majority of the work in the oil and gas industry is not happening in Guyana, and the reason it’s not happening in Guyana is because we don’t have the facilities,” he stated. Deygoo-Boyer, a Director of NRG Holdings, said that a significant amount of the services to the local oil and gas sector is being provided from other countries, such as Trinidad, due to the lack of facilities. He said the port will allow for those services to be provided from Guyana.
It was explained that the first phase of the project is an oil and gas shore base, followed by a commercial port. “What we are going to do is take the business from the oil and gas industry but bring the benefits down to the average person.” Among some of the benefits expected are the reduction of shipping costs by up to 15 percent and income-generating opportunities. “When we conceptualised this, we did not put services that you in the community can sell to us—food, housing, groceries…” he said, adding that 220 persons will be needed during the construction phase.
NRG Holdings Inc. received an environmental permit from the Environmental Protection Agency for the project. As part of that permit, they are required to do an Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP). Additionally, an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) that is required by the Financial Lenders. In this regard, data collection—which includes the community engagement— is being conducted by Coastal Dynamics Limited (CDL).
Project Manager at CDL, Keshtav Ramdial explained the process of conducting the assessment and formulating the plan. “We have to understand the environment, we have to collect the necessary environmental and social data, we have to understand the legal framework of the country the project is going to be in,” he stated. He added, “We then have to determine how that project will impact the environment during the construction and operation.” The objective, he stressed, is to determine the correct mitigation measures that can be employed to reduce any potential negative impact of the project.
The timeline for the project to be completed is three years with an anticipated startup later this year. So far, a number of environmental datasets have been collected as they continue the ESIA. Datasets include water and sediment chemistry; air and noise background levels; Oceanographic data; plankton and benthic macrofauna; flora and fauna surveys, including mangroves; and onshore and offshore avifauna data.