An umbrella organisation representing businesses across Guyana is now speaking out, following the recent court ruling on oil spill insurance in the South American country.
The Private Sector Commission (PSC) said in a statement on May 20 that it is “profoundly concerned” over the controversy which has arisen with regard to the recent judgement regarding the Financial Assurance Obligation of ExxonMobil Guyana, stipulated in its environmental permit for the Liza Phase 1 project in the highly unlikely event of an oil spill.
Recognising that the matter is still before the court, the PSC said in the meantime it invites all of Guyana to give serious thought and reflection to where the country is today in terms of the significant infrastructure and transformative developments which have already taken place and their impact on Guyanese.
“The capital investments made by Exxon and their partners are already quite extraordinary for our country of less than a million people, amounting to date, of US$20B in the Stabroek Block and committed investments amounting to some US$45B,” PSC said. “We have already begun to benefit hugely from these investments which are projected to exceed some US$200B over their lifetime.”
The umbrella body said this influx of massive amounts of Capital investments and Foreign Direct Investment has led to the unprecedent demand of unskilled, skilled and technical labour resulting in significant increases in salaries in the Private Sector alone. “Consider four years ago, unskilled labourers earned GY$3,000 to GY$4,000 per day; today, that same labourer earns between GY$8,000 to GY$10,000.”
PSC said this significant increase in wages is replete in all spheres of employment across Guyana as a result of the Oil & Gas Sector.
“Consider also, the thousands of small and medium scale businesses that have been created/developed in Guyana over the past few years and are finally gaining a foot hold in a thriving and dynamic economy,” PSC said. “These businesses have benefited from Tens of Billions of dollars being spent annually across all sectors and across all regions of Guyana.”
The PSC pointed too to the substantial road and bridge capital works of highways extending across the length and breadth of Guyana, which it said is opening up the massive potential for agricultural and mining development and transportation of goods and services.
“It is inconceivable that any sensible Guyanese would consider reversing this massive progress but, yes, every sensible Guyanese must also consider the absolute need to also sustain and protect our environment and guard against the unlikely and highly improbable event of an oil spill and its consequential fallout,” PSC said.
In this regard, the umvrella body said it is pleased to recognize that the government is already well advanced in meeting this challenge in its approach to ExxonMobil.
“The government has confirmed that it is actively involved, through the EPA, in the process of determining that ExxonMobil Guyana and its Stabroek Block partners are, first, technologically committed to the prevention of a major accident of any kind occurring and have agreed to seek affiliate guarantees and provide financial resources committed to meeting their obligations, should there be such an occurrence,” PSC said.
At a May 19 press conference, ExxonMobil said it has an obligation as the operator of the Stabroek Block to prevent incidents from happening and to do everything it can to undertake mitigation measures should one occur, including bearing the cost of cleanup and any liabilities that go with.
PSC said it believes and support the fact that significant strides and attention is being paid by all stakeholders in Guyana to ensure continuous and sustainable development.
“The Private Sector Commission will continue to advocate for national development in an environmentally safe manner, which benefits all Guyanese throughout the length and breadth of Guyana. Guyana’s Oil and Gas Industry is the vehicle which promises to take us to that realization,” the PSC said.