Guyana moves to expand oil regulation with new proposed law

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Guyana’s Ministry of Natural Resources has announced the release of a draft Petroleum Activities Bill for public consultation, proposing a major overhaul of its oil and gas regulatory framework. The bill aims to replace the outdated Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act of 1986.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources, the draft Petroleum Activities Bill emphasizes safety and emergency response measures, facilitates cross-border unitisation, and enhances supervision and monitoring requirements. It said the bill also grants the minister the authority to prescribe regulations governing administrative and operational aspects of exploration and production activities.

The government plans to utilise the bill to expand the scope of regulation, to include storage and pipeline transportation in the oil and gas sector. Additionally, the government is proposing that the Parliament grant it the power to regulate activities related to geological storage of carbon dioxide. It has an interest in exploring potential CO2 storage sites to reduce the carbon footprint of its expanding oil and gas sector.

The introduction of this law is major, as critics have nagged at successive governments about running the oil sector with legislation that’s nearly four decades old. 

The draft bill is expected to be supplemented by a set of regulations, which government expects to develop in the coming months. 

The government had postponed its offshore licensing round so it would have the time to revise this law and finalise its model petroleum agreements. The Ministry said the agreements have to align with the provisions of the Petroleum Activities Bill, as it will be when passed into law. So, the government must finalise the law first. 

The public consultation phase for the draft bill will span two weeks, commencing from Tuesday, 20th June and concluding on Monday, 3rd July 2023. At the close of the consultation, government is likely to revise the draft to incorporate comments before tabling it in the Parliament. The executive’s comfortable majority in the Parliament means this bill is unlikely to have trouble passing.

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