New column aiming to help public better understand Guyana’s oil laws

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OilNOW
OilNOW
OilNOW is an online-based Information and Resource Centre

Chevy Devonish, an attorney and lecturer at the University of Guyana, is collaborating with OilNOW by way of a new column which aims to demystify the complex legal framework governing Guyana’s oil and gas sector. Devonish emphasized the urgent need for this initiative in the first installment on OilNOW, citing a widespread lack of understanding of relevant laws among industry insiders and the general public.

“Even senior functionaries in the public and private sector are often unaware of relevant statutes, statutory provisions, and how they are to be interpreted and applied,” Devonish remarked. He noted that this lack of understanding extends to laws that significantly impact everyday life.

His column will outline and break down the legal architecture regulating Guyana’s oil and gas industry. Devonish pointed out that current reporting often needs to include the interplay between local and international laws, such as the Maritime Zones Act and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which establish Guyana’s exclusive economic zone.

“Legislation regulating the oil and gas sector in Guyana are viewed in isolation, and sometimes they are ignored altogether,” Devonish explained. He intends to provide detailed explanations of key legislation, including the recent Petroleum Activities Act 2023, and clarify how these laws underpin the sector’s operations.

Devonish highlighted the importance of understanding the legal context behind notable industry events, such as the charges against ExxonMobil and Ramps Logistics under the Customs Act for false declarations. “Only four of the nine reports from nine different media outlets stated that the charges were brought under the Customs Act 82:01. Is this known?” he asked.

By increasing legal literacy, Devonish hopes to empower stakeholders and the public to better understand the implications of legal decisions and the regulatory environment.

“This column is for the public, so I welcome your suggestions as we take this step,” he concluded.

Chevy Devonish is a Senior Legal Advisor at the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance.

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