Saturday, March 25, 2023

Public consultations on US$10B Yellowtail Project “above and beyond” legal protocol – EPA

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With the US$10 billion Yellowtail project being the largest single investment in Guyana’s history, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has assured that it has gone above and beyond what the law requires to ensure the public was involved in detailed consultations.

The regulator on Monday reminded that it had published its decision that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was required and that the public can make written submissions regarding questions and matters they required answered or considered in the EIA. This was published in May 2021.

The EPA said too that it went above and beyond, at its discretion, to ensure public participation, by hosting several public meetings virtually and in-person in Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 during the months of July and August 2021. The agency said the public submissions were considered in preparing the final Terms and Scope for the conduct of the EIA.

When the EIA/EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) was submitted to the EPA on October 15, 2021, it was noted that the project proponent being Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) published a notice confirming same and inviting members of the public to make any submissions as they considered appropriate.

Again, the EPA stressed that it went “above and beyond” what was required and hosted public meetings both virtually and in-person in regions 1,2,3,4,5 and 6, during the period October and November 2021, where the consultants presented the EIA and the EPA garnered direct feedback.

“The above clearly demonstrates that the EPA complied fully and went above and beyond the requirements of the law, to ensure public participation in the EIA process for Yellowtail Development Project. Further, in approving the project and issuing an Environmental Permit, the EPA complied with the requirement of the EP Act and considered the submissions received from the public and the indication of the EIA/EIS was acceptable by Environmental Assessment Board (EAB) and recommendations for inclusion in an approval,” expressed the EPA.

In fact, the agency said it secured an independent international expert to support the EPA’s internal review of the EIA while adding that the public comments were provided to and were considered by the international expert. OilNOW understands that the findings and recommendations of this review along with the submissions from the public were submitted to the EAB. This review period commenced on January 18, 2022, and concluded on March 25, 2022, with the EAB’s indication of acceptance and recommendations.

The EPA said it granted its approval on March 30, 2022, in the form of the Environmental Permit while adding that the public was notified via a media release. There was also a publication of notice of approval and the grounds on which it was made.

The initial production for the US$10 billion Yellowtail Project is expected to begin by the end of 2025–early 2026, with operations continuing for at least 20 years. The project is expected to employ up to 540 persons during development well drilling, approximately 600 persons at the peak of the installation stage, and 100 to 140 persons during production operations.

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