Guyana preparing for ‘every likely scenario’ in oil spill response training

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In keeping with the objective of assessing oil spill-related events on Guyana’s coast, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) in collaboration with the U.S. State Department this week concluded a three-day workshop with members of Guyana’s National Oil Spill Committee. This activity is part of a six-month series of joint operations designed to aid Guyana in the development of an efficient national response mechanism and to enhance maritime oil spill prevention, planning and response capabilities.

The virtual workshop, held on January 18, 26 and 27, built on the progress Guyana has already made with the development of the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan. In a statement shared with the press it was stated that the USCG facilitators guided the workshop participants through a myriad of oil spill scenarios to ascertain the most probable and consequential outcomes. Those results were then used to outline possible improvements to the national oil spill plan.

It was noted that stakeholder engagement and feedback were consistent and helpful throughout the three-day activity, while environmental, cultural, social, health and other factors were weighed when assessing the risk and vulnerability relevant to each community along Guyana’s coastland. Protected areas were identified and geolocations for sensitive sites were also inputted.

CDC’s Preparedness and Response Manager, Major Salim October, lauded the workshop as an “extremely fruitful process”. He said that since Guyana is still relatively new to the oil and gas sector such insight and thorough planning is essential.

Major October added, “This puts Guyana at a great advantage in terms of planning ahead and preparing for almost every likely scenario. The workshop took into account local dynamics in several arenas and birthed a result that the Guyanese people will be comfortable with. We still have many other activities over the next few months to further prepare us, but we are in a good position at this moment.”

Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig, Director General of the CDC, relayed his satisfaction with the support received from the US Government.

“There will be consistent capacity enhancement as Guyana gains experience working with oil and gas companies and agencies…” added the Director General.

Other oil spill committee members added their knowledge and expertise to the venture in order to make it a resounding success. The Guyana Marine Conservation Society, MARAD, EPA, GGMC and GDF Coast Guard gave tremendous scope to the scenarios which allowed the facilitators to adjust their estimates accordingly.

Notably, remaining activities for the National Oil Spill Committee in 2022 will include a virtual Program Management Training exercise and in-person exchanges to observe oil spill response exercises.

The National Oil Spill Committee is comprised of agencies such as the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ministry of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Human Services and Social Security, the Hydro Meteorological Office through the Ministry of Agriculture, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), Guyana Energy Agency (GEA), Maritime Administration Department (MARAD), Guyana Marine Conservation Society, Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and the GDF Coast Guard.

The National Oil Spill Response Plan as well as the National Oil Spill Committee to support contingency planning and lead the policy direction of the management of national oil spill events across Guyana, was activated in January 2021.

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