Government building capacity in preparation for petroleum sector

DPI, GUYANA, Friday, October 20, 2017

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon said that Government is looking at the capacity of the Ministry of Natural Resources, as well as that of the environmental agencies, such as the Department of the Environment and the Office of Climate Change which fall under the purview of the Ministry of the Presidency, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), among others in relation to preparation for the Oil and Gas Sector.

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon speaking during post cabinet media conference.

The Minister, who was responding to questions on Thursday regarding Guyana’s readiness for the sector, specifically its response to the eventuality of oil spills, said that government is currently receiving expert advice about best practices from countries around the world.  “I believe that we are in the process of acquiring sufficient information, that would be able to put processes and structures [ in place] to deal with the eventuality of an oil spill,” the Minister noted.

Minister Harmon alluded to the fact that even the most developed countries, with advanced technologically, equipment and processes, have suffered setbacks after oil spills, hence preparation is an important aspect in the sector.

The State Minister acknowledged that as it relates to the sector, Government does not possess “infinite knowledge,” therefore the intervention of professionals is accepted, once it is presented in a respectful manner.  He noted that “as a nation, we need to take advantage of all the opportunities provided by our Guyanese citizens, respective of where they are and from whichever source that information comes to us and we must it take into consideration, put all of that on the table, when we are devising our processes to deal with oil and gas. Ultimately it is for all of us and the generations to come.”

Additionally, Minister Harmon announced that Head of the Department of the Environment, Ndibi Schwiers will be attending the Second Meeting of the Environmental Working Group of the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Third Meeting of Ministers of the Environment and High-level National Authorities relating to climate change, to be held in Santa Cruz, Bolivia from October 26-28, 2017.

The meeting is expected to result in an agreement on the CELAC Joint Declaration for the Environmental Working Group, increased awareness on the activities of CELAC to facilitate Guyana’s involvement as a member state and guidance towards the adaption of a national model of development to address climate change issues in member countries.

The Minister sees Guyana’s participation in these activities as paramount in the country’s preparation to deal with the repercussions of the Oil and Gas sector on the environment and is also in line with the ‘green state’ trajectory.


By: Stacy Carmichael