The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Guyana is scheduled to hold a public hearing next month on ExxonMobil’s proposed 12-well exploration and appraisal drilling programme which is targeting start-up in 2022.
The EPA said in a notice on Friday the Environmental Assessment Board (EAB) will be conducting the hearing on Thursday, October 14, 2021, at 14:00h at the EPA’s, Ganges Street, Sophia, Georgetown headquarters.
“In accordance with Section 18(3) of the Environmental Protection Act, Cap. 20:05, Laws of Guyana, the EAB shall conduct public hearings into all appeals submitted against the EPA’s decision not to require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project,” the EPA said.
According to the notice, the Public Hearing will involve representations from the appellants, the developer and other key stakeholders; after which, the EAB will deliberate on the findings and prepare a report with its decision confirming or setting aside the EPA’s decision.
Following Exxon’s application to the EPA for Environmental Authorisation to undertake the 12-well campaign, the regulator had said based on its assessment, the project will not significantly affect the environment and is therefore exempt from the requirement of an EIA, in accordance with Section 11(2) of the Environmental Protection Act, Cap 20:05.
At the time, the EPA was clear to point out that this decision is in no way an indication of approval of the project. In fact, notwithstanding this decision, the EPA said in the interest of sound environmental management, it will require the preparation and submission of an Environmental Assessment and Management Plan (EAMP) for the project.
The EAMP is intended to assess specific issues and impacts identified during screening and along with specific mitigation measures to ensure that the proposed project can be implemented in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner.
In keeping with the Environmental Protection Act, Cap.20:05, Laws of Guyana, and the Environmental Protection (Authorisations) Regulations, 2000, members of the public had an opportunity to lodge an appeal with the EAB against the EPA’s decision not to require ExxonMobil to conduct an EIA.
So far, ExxonMobil has drilled two wells at the Canje block – Bulletwood-1 and Jabillo-1. Bulletwood-1 was safely drilled in 2,846 meters of water to its planned target depth of 6,690 meters but failed to deliver commercial crude. Jabillo-1 was also non-commercial. It was safely drilled to a depth of 6,475 meters in 2,903 meters of water.
A third exploration campaign is currently underway in the Canje Block at Sapote-1, located approximately 255 km offshore in 2,550 meters of water.
Exxon is operator at the Canje Block with 35% interest. Total also holds a 35% stake with JHI Associates, Inc. holding 17.5% and Mid-Atlantic Oil & Gas, Inc. holding 12.5%.