Guyanese files legal action against ExxonMobil and partners, Gov. concerned

The Gov’t of Guyana has stated that it is satisfied that all legal requirements were fulfilled in issuing petroleum production license, to oil companies.

According to a release on Friday which states that the Government of Guyana wishes to reaffirm that it zealously guards and defends the right of every citizen to seek recourse in law in pursuit of interests they believe to be worthy. The release is responding to an article in the media which states that ‘Guyanese campaigners mount legal challenge against three oil giants’.

The Government noted that of Guyana is certain, as it is confident, that every action it took with regard to the issuance of the petroleum production license met all legal requirements.

The Government of Guyana is prepared and willing to present all facts in this regard to any court with jurisdiction.

The statement further noted that the Ministry is satisfied that its partners engaged in exploration and preparation for production are taking every precaution in ensuring that there is minimal effect to the environment and that they are diligently putting systems in place to guard against any spills or mishaps.

The Ministry further assures all Guyanese, and the world at large, that it will continue to engage its partners – ExxonMobil, Hess and CNOOC Nexen – in ensuring that the interest of Guyana’s waters and environment remain top priorities as we pursue exploitation of Guyana’s natural resources with a view to fast track Guyana’s social, infrastructural and economic development.

The Ministry calls on all Guyanese to remain vigilant and interested in ensuring that Guyana’s patrimony, in every regard, is protected and also to act in the best interest of the future development of this generation and generations to follow.

The article in the Guardian states;

Three major oil companies preparing to drill off the shores of Guyana, where a string of discoveries have sparked a rush for crude, are being challenged by a group of citizens who say their dash for oil is illegal.

Lawyers acting for the Guyanese campaigners are to lodge the latest challenge in a court in Guyana this week. They are funding the battle against oil giants Exxon Mobil, Hess Corporation and Nexen, a subsidiary of Chinese national oil, through the crowdfund site crowd fund justice.

Offshore drilling off the coast of Guyana is seen as one of the most sought-after prospects in the world for oil companies. Analysts predict offshore drilling could provide 350,000 to 400,000 barrel per dat by 2026, while Exxon has predicted 500,000 barrels per day

But concerned citizens of the small South American country, which has never been an oil producer, are challenging the oil giants.

Melinda Janki, one of the lawyers representing the Guyanese campaigners, said the granting of licences to drill by the government was illegal. Under Guyanese law, a licence to drill can only be granted if an environmental permit has been obtained by the company involved.

“It is very simple. If you want to extract oil in Guyana you need an environmental permit in order to get a petroleum production licence,” she said. “Only one of the three companies involved has an environmental permit. We are seeking an order to quash the decision by the minister to issue the licence because, we are saying, he acted illegally.”

Janki lodged an appeal earlier this month after the first attempt to quash the granting of the licences was rejected by a judge.

Ramon Gaskin of A Fair Deal for Guyana campaign said: “In my opinion the government has sold off Guyana’s oil without a care for the environment, without a care for the people, without a care for fishermen and others who stand to lose everything from a spill, without a care for Guyana’s marine environment which could be totally destroyed, without a care for future generations who might inherit nothing but an oil slick, and without any understanding whatsoever of the dangers of climate change. People also have to understand that an oil spill or a well blow-out could harm our Caribbean neighbours and Guyana could be liable for that damage.”

The oil companies oppose the legal claim.



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