Oil spill response plan a top priority of Guyana government – Minister of State

Joseph Harmon, Guyana's Minister of State

The need to craft an oil spill contingency plan is among the top priorities of authorities in Guyana, and the government has already begun to put structures in place to deal with such eventualities when production begins in 2020.

This is according to the South American country’s Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, who was asked to comment on the need for Guyana to have a contingency plan in place, at his post-cabinet news conference on Thursday.

“The Government is currently looking at the experiences of other countries as well as the capacity within the Ministry of Natural Resources and we are looking at the capacity in our environmental agencies (Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Environment and the Office of Climate Change), since all of these entities are focusing on that issue,” he told the media.

Mr. Harmon pointed out that the Government is keen on taking advantage of all the opportunities provided by Guyanese so as to craft an overall plan that not only ensures the sustainability of the industry but takes the needs of the people of the country into consideration.

He added, “We, in the Government, do not possess all of this infinite knowledge and so we welcome the intervention by persons.”

Guyana has been receiving support for the establishment of oil spill preparedness and response mechanisms from key stakeholders and partners. US Ambassador to Guyana, Perry Holloway, told OilNOW in a recent interview, “The important thing is the Government has got to educate itself on what it is the oil industry is like, what is involved in an oil spill, how you clean them up and then once they are educated and understand the technology, then they will be able to monitor the companies involved.”

In early September, a team comprising members of the United States Coast Guard and the US Department of Interior were in Guyana to help with the South American country’s National Oil Spill Emergency Plan.