Guyana to introduce landmark oil spill legislation this year – VP Jagdeo

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Kiana Wilburg
Kiana Wilburg is a Senior Energy Journalist in Guyana. She has been in media for 12 years and religiously follows the country’s journey with oil and gas.

The Guyana government will this year table in its parliament, a landmark legislation that will address liabilities and other matters associated with oil spills. This announcement was made on Thursday by the country’s Vice President and chief policymaker for the oil sector, Bharrat Jagdeo. During a press briefing in Georgetown, Jagdeo said this piece of legislation will fortify the institutional framework in place to ensure good governance in the multi-billion dollar industry. 

“We have practically fulfilled our oil and gas agenda,” the Vice President told local journalists. He assured that a Petroleum Commission, which will serve as an independent regulator for the sector, is still on the cards, but will come at a later time. In the meantime, the policymaker said the legislation for oil spills is one of the new instruments that will likely make it to parliament before the recess period of August 10 to October 10, 2024.

With respect to some of the key components of the imminent oil spill law, the Vice President said it will address a range of scenarios such as those that occur in the transfer or transportation of petroleum products. 

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“We want to strengthen the law governing any situation in the event that we have an oil spill,” said the Vice President. He said too that the government wants to ensure that the law determines clearly, the responsibilities for the state’s side as well as those parties that caused the spill. 

“We will determine liabilities in the Act, and deal with who would be liable for what. We would have to have a mechanism that allows us to immediately tackle the consequence of the spill but also a mechanism that could lead to resolution of things like compensation etc,” the Vice President explained. 

The chief policymaker for the sector also noted that the government is examining other similar pieces of legislation in advanced economies such as the U.S., to understand what best practices are most applicable for the Guyana context. 

Also in the works, he said, are regulations to complement the Petroleum Activities Law passed last year. 

The Vice President assured that these new legislative features are poised to further strengthen the institutional framework put in place over the last three years. Since assuming office, the government has passed the Local Content Act as well as updated the Natural Resource Fund legislation.

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