Saturday, April 1, 2023

Local NGO ‘unwittingly pushing prejudices of developed world’ with calls to halt oil production – Guyana VP

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Guyana’s Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo remains adamant that developing countries have a right to pursue prosperity through the commercialization of their natural resources in the same way rich countries have done, and continue to do, on a massive scale across the globe. He said the actions by a local Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), while well-intentioned, is actually serving the agenda of developed countries which are seeking to dominate oil production so that they can continue to cash in big as the world moves away from fossil fuel.

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In May of this year a group of Guyanese citizens filed a case to challenge fossil fuel production on the grounds that it exacerbates global warming and threatens human rights. The case, which is before Guyana’s Constitutional Court, claims that government’s approval of the ExxonMobil-led oil and gas operations violates the applicants’ constitutional rights to a safe and healthy environment. They allege that under these agreements, Exxon will produce large quantities of petroleum which when burnt, would create large amounts of greenhouse gases which in turn would cause climate change, making Guyana’s environment unsafe and unhealthy.

“Well, if you add all of the emissions from ExxonMobil here in Guyana from the current FPSO and emissions from every sector in Guyana, it will not be equivalent to the emissions of the world one hour in a day…That is annual emissions. But yet we are contributing to climate change?” Mr. Jagdeo said to those gathered at the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s 132nd Awards Ceremony Presentation and Gala on Thursday evening in Georgetown.

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He said on the other hand, the United States and others are asking oil and gas operators to ramp up production as oil prices continue to climb.

“So, our NGO believes that we must shut down the operations here, but in the developed world, they want more oil pumped because prices are escalating and affecting their people, their businesses and their consumers,” Mr. Jagdeo pointed out.

He suggested that there is a high degree of hypocrisy and unfairness at play when rich countries say the developing world must not pursue any fossil fuel related infrastructure and advocate for a halt to financing of these activities, when they themselves are pursuing these objectives.

“But we have just seen that when gas prices tripled in Europe, the same countries that say this, there are now starting up some coal-fired power plants which are even more polluting than using gas for energy. So, when those countries are faced with crises, they look at any solution, whether it’s polluting or non-polluting,” he said.

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Referring to the court action by the local group of citizens, Mr. Jagdeo said, “…unwittingly, I believe, they are pushing the prejudices of the developed world.”

ExxonMobil has found over 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent offshore Guyana since 2015 which experts and groups such as the Inter-American Development Bank have said could potentially transform Guyana into one of the most prosperous countries in the world.

Using a model of just five offshore developments being underway by 2025 targeting an estimated 750,000 barrels of oil per day, the IDB said considering the sequencing of the projects, Guyana would ultimately accumulate around US$49 billion by 2054 in oil revenue. Exxon has said around 10 FPSOs will be needed to develop the resources it has discovered so far.

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However, experts have warned that the window for developing and maximising returns from these resources is closing, as the world moves away from fossil fuel in pursuit of renewable forms of energy.

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