Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said in a notice over the weekend that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the cumulative effects of a 35-well campaign proposed by ExxonMobil at the Stabroek Block, is required before a determination can be made on the granting of Environmental Authorisation. EPA said this is pursuant to Section 17 of the Environmental Protection Act.
The Agency said although the proposed project by itself will not significantly affect the environment, since the impacts will be temporary and localized, the requirement for an EIA relates to the fact that similar projects/activities are already being carried out in the Stabroek Block, and as such, may cumulatively, significantly affect the environment.
The environmental body said members of the public are being invited within 28 days of the notice being published, to submit questions and matters to the Agency which they require to be answered or considered in the EIA.
According to an Environmental Authorisation Screening Report for the project, published by the EPA, it is anticipated that the Stabroek Block 35 well exploration/appraisal drilling campaign will begin in third quarter 2023, and if discoveries are made, well test(s) may be performed. Conclusion of the proposed drilling campaign is expected by fourth quarter 2028. This schedule is preliminary and could be influenced by new discoveries, determination of the need for sidetracks, and/or well tests—all of which could extend the drilling period for the Project. The same factors could also influence the locations and sequence of subsequent wells.
The process of drilling the 35 exploration/appraisal wells for the Project will be similar to the process followed during previous exploration/appraisal well campaigns as well as the previous development projects of Liza Phase 1, Liza Phase 2, and Payara.
If a well test is determined to be warranted for the Project, the well would likely be temporarily abandoned to enable the return of a drill ship to re-enter the well and complete the well test at a later date.
The Screening Report says the likelihood of impacts to coastal demographics and fisheries are low given the distance of the project site to the coastline and fishing grounds. The likelihood of an unplanned event occurring is also rated as low due to engineering designs and safety features aboard the drill ship. The activation of the Oil Spill Response Plan will also seek to reduce the impacts to both the ecological and socio-economic environments via containment procedures outlined therein.
The proposed project is located in the deep offshore marine environment and is approximately 200 km from the coastline of Guyana. There are no marine protected areas designated in Guyana’s marine space.