Guyana Appeals Court rejects another challenge to Hess, CNOOC Liza permit

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The Guyana Court of Appeal has ruled that Hess and CNOOC, the non-operating partners in the Stabroek Block, do not need separate environmental permits for the Liza Phase One project.

The court on Wednesday found that the licence obtained by Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) as operator, covers overall activities in the block.

The court upheld the February 2020 ruling of Chief Justice Roxane George, who threw out the challenge of activist, Ramon Gaskin, to quash the decision of former Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman, to grant the companies a Petroleum Production Licence dated June 15, 2017.

Gaskin has indicated that he will appeal the decision to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which is Guyana’s final court of appeal. He had also argued that Hess and CNOOC require individual environmental permits from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), not just ExxonMobil’s subsidiary.

Gaskin contended that the Minister acted in contravention of the Petroleum Act by granting the licence.

However, the Chief Justice ruled that not only was the licence properly issued to EEPGL but there is also no need for all three of the partners to be issued separate environmental permits.

The Liza Phase One project began production operations in December 2019. The initial environmental permit for the project expired earlier this year and was renewed by the EPA. This was inline with a court ruling that amended the duration of the permit from 20 years to five. The court had found that the 20-year period first awarded was unlawful.

The production licence, however, was lawfully granted for two decades and remains in force.

The project has oil production capacity of 140,000 barrels per day (bpd).

Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited holds 45% interest in the Stabroek Block while Hess and CNOOC hold 30% and 25% respectively.  The three companies – Esso, Hess and CNOOC – were represented by attorneys-at-law Andrew Pollard, Nigel Hughes and Ashley Henry.

The Minister of Resources was represented by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC; attorney-at-law Edward Luckhoo; Solicitor General Nigel Hawke; Deputy Solicitor General Deborah Kumar, and attorney-at-law Eleanor Luckhoo.

Gaskin was represented by Attorneys-at-Law Seenath Jairam, Melinda Janki, and Ron Motilall.

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