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Opposition calls for comprehensive studies on gas-to-energy project in motion to Parliament

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Guyana’s main Opposition party, the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), submitted a motion to the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr. Sherlock Isaacs, on Wednesday which calls for comprehensive studies to be done before the government continues with its US$900 million gas-to-energy project.

In the motion that was prepared by Opposition Member of Parliament (MP), David Patterson and seconded by his fellow MP Khemraj Ramjattan, the duo reminded that the government has selected the West Bank Demerara village of Wales as the proposed location for the onshore gas facility. This facility will require a 110-kilometre-long pipeline to be laid along the seabed while 27 kilometres will pass through commercial, industrial, and agricultural lands.

In the document, the Opposition criticized the government for failing to conduct studies on the environmental and geological effects of the project given its proposed location. But feasibility studies that were conducted under the former APNU+AFC government showed that the gas-to-energy initiative would be to Guyana’s benefit. These documents were made public earlier this year.

Notwithstanding this, the Opposition called for independent, and internationally recognized consultants to prepare further studies.

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The scope of work, the motion stated, should include an investigation to understand the geological, environmental and safety risks with mitigative actions from pipeline leaks, ruptures, and movements that may be caused by defective construction, aging, corrosion, seabed landforms, mudslides, hurricanes, tsunami, faults, fractures and seismic activities such as earthquakes and volcanoes.

Additionally, the Opposition wants the government to consider the analyses of the available technology for real-time monitoring of the deep-water pipeline to ensure its integrity and reliable detection of subsurface leaks. It said too that the environmental, safety, and health risks along with mitigating actions associated with accommodating the gaps in technology should be included.

Among other things, the motion calls for an analysis of the economic, social, and environmental pros and cons of renewable alternatives such as solar, hydropower, and wind, including an energy mix consistent with Guyana’s overall effort to achieve a low carbon economy and compliance with the Paris Agreement.

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Once completed, the APNU+AFC Opposition is proposing that the results be submitted to the Parliament’s Natural Resources Committee following which, the body is asked to present a report of its findings to the National Assembly. In the meantime, it is calling for a moratorium on the gas-to-energy project until a final decision on this energy development is determined.

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Parliament is currently in recess and is expected to resume with a packed itinerary before the end of 2021.

ExxonMobil, the oil company bringing the gas to shore, has already commenced preparation of the four critical studies needed for this project — namely the geotechnical, geophysical, lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) and environmental impact studies.

Once completed, this gas-to-energy project is expected to cut the cost of power by 50 percent thereby putting more disposable income into the pockets of ordinary Guyanese and fostering a more attractive business environment.

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