Monday, February 6, 2023

Rapid oil and gas expansion pushes revision of Guyana National Land Use Plan

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Guyanese authorities are in the process of revising the National Land Use Plan in an effort to efficiently streamline the increasing need for shore bases and other oil and gas support facilities. 

This is outlined in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for ExxonMobil Guyana’s Uaru project. That document, which was produced by Acorn International, highlights that land for more support services will be needed as activities accelerate for the fifth project

The report said the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) has taken note of how Exxon’s projects, and the oil and gas sector, have directly influenced the demand for land as well as increased the value of properties, specifically in Region 4.

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In the EIA, GLSC representatives claim that since the first discovery of oil was announced in 2015, demand from local and international investors for private and public lands has increased in Region 4. As such the state agency is considering expanding the state land area available for lease. It was noted however that this must be approached with caution as there is limited available land for this purpose.

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While demand for state land outside Region 4 has not seen a dramatic increase, engagements with stakeholders suggest that this is likely to change as the oil and gas sector develops. In particular, the EIA states that the socioeconomic benefits of the oil and gas sector (including generation of direct, indirect, and induced employment and income) may increase demand for housing, and more state lands are likely to be allocated as residential areas on the outskirts of Region 4. 

It is also expected that agricultural lands may be converted for residential or commercial uses in coastal regions to meet the growing demand. According to the Uaru EIA, personnel from GLSC also highlighted the importance of integrated land use planning which involves the collaboration of various government agencies to forecast how demand for land is likely to evolve and to facilitate informed decisions on leasing.

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Towards this end, the National Land Use Plan that guides the GLSC in land management and administration is being revised to include oil and gas sector considerations. In the meantime, GLSC is currently implementing a Mainstreaming Sustainable Land Development and Management project, which will strengthen institutional and human capacities for participatory and integrated land use planning.

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