Black Immigrant Daily News
The proposed area in the Stabroek Block for the 35-well campaign
While oil giant ExxonMobil is adamant in its plans for the 35-well drilling campaign that an oil spill is unlikely due to the plethora of preventative measures, it does cater for this “unlikely” event with the establishment of a Claims and Remediation process to ensure anyone affected by a potential spill is adequately compensated.
According to the Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) for the 35-well drilling campaign, Exxon subsidiary Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) would set up a process to ensure those whose livelihoods are affected by an oil spill can be compensated through a claims process.
“The purpose of the claims process would be to provide compensation as appropriate for asset losses and the purpose of a livelihood remediation programme would be to restore the welfare and livelihoods of affected persons to conditions no less than pre-impact conditions. Both processes would be transparent, fair, and conducted in a timely manner.”
“EEPGL, in consultation with the Government of Guyana and other jurisdictions (as required), would establish the designated geographic zones associated with the claims and, as applicable, livelihood remediation processes; these would be commensurate with the magnitude of the impacts of the spill,” EEPGL further explained.
According to the oil company, eligible persons would be compensated as appropriate based on the “magnitude of project-related impacts they individually experienced”. This means that persons would be compensated whether their health was affected or whether there was economic loss due to the spill.
“It is anticipated that EEPGL would establish steering committees, working groups, and stakeholder engagement-specific entities to determine eligible stakeholders, standard entitlements, and eligibility criteria for further livelihood compensation and assistance.”“EEPGL would consider establishing an independent implementation entity as soon as reasonably practicable after the spill, to assist in the process of livelihood remediation planning while the initial compensation efforts are ongoing,” the company further explained.
It even gives some insight into the categories of compensation. The company noted that depending on the extent of losses, livelihood remediation efforts can range from early (within the first year) to long term support initiatives (from one to two years after spill).
However, EEPGL took pains to emphasise in that same CIA that an oil spill of such nature is “very unlikely”, considering the preventative measures that are in place during the drilling campaign. They also listed what these measures included.
Among the measures are proper well design and control, as well as equipment inspection and testing. Physical barriers such as Blow Out Preventers (BOPs) and drilling fluids to control pressures in the well will also be used. And in the unlikely event that all else fails, they pointed to the comprehensive Oil Spill Response Plan (OSRP) in place.
“In addition to the established spill prevention controls, EEPGL also has developed a detailed OSRP, which is included as part of the Project’s ESMMP, for an effective response to an oil spill, if one were to occur.”
“The OSRP builds on the coastal sensitivity mapping and oil spill modelling described herein and describes the response measures appropriate to the magnitude and complexity of a spill incident,” Exxon further said.
According to the oil company, the OSRP makes clear the responsibilities of each entity that would take part in a response to an oil spill. It also describes how EEPGL and its contractors would mobilise local oil spill response resources, which would be complemented by the regional and international resources provided by the oil spill response contractors in its arsenal.
“The OSRP describes the EEPGL process for notifying the Government of Guyana with respect to mobilising its resources. The lead agency for oil spill response in Guyana is the Civil Defence Commission, and the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan outlines how the Civil Defence Commission will coordinate the responses of other agencies, including MARAD (Government of Guyana 2020).”
“Due to the precautionary measures used by EEPGL to prevent and control an oil spill, as described above and in Chapter 2, the likelihood of a Tier II or III oil spill occurring is considered to be unlikely,” the company also explained.
For context, a Tier I spill is a small oil spill that can be quickly managed using local resources. Tier II describes a moderate spill that does not warrant a broader response beyond regional resources. A Tier III spill is a large one that must be handled with both regional and international resources.
ExxonMobil has been seeking approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the environmental assessment of these wells was done by ERM Guyana, which conducts environmental, health, safety and risk assessments.