Gov’t working to build EPA’s capacity to monitor oil and gas sector – GS Jagdeo

General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has assured that the government is working to build capacity of the Environmental Protection Agency to better monitor the activities within the oil and gas sector.

Dr. Jagdeo acknowledged the need for significant improvement in integrating more technology into the sector. According to the GS, the government has already made headway in this regard.

General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

“We have independent satellite monitoring now to detect any sheen in the water so that even small quantities of oil leaks can be detected because of high resolution satellite imaging and monitoring,” he told reporters at his weekly press conference at Freedom House on Thursday.

Through its  Monitoring Recording Verification System (MRVS), the EPA in conjunction with the Ministry of Natural Resources, also has the capacity for real-time monitoring and reporting of environmental discharges aboard the Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading Vessels (FPSOs).

This technology also allows them to monitor how much oil is being extracted by ExxonMobil and its partners from the Stabroek Block.

Added to this, Dr Jagdeo said that independent thermal imaging systems are in place to detect any flaring.

Flaring is the controlled burning of excess natural gas, preventing dangerous buildups that could lead to explosions.

This process occurs during oil production, where natural gas is often extracted alongside crude oil.

However, the gas needs to be separated and treated before it can be used as a fuel source. It requires processing and infrastructure for transport, which may not be available or economically feasible in all locations.  While flaring offers a safety measure, it’s not an ideal solution.

To hold the contractor accountable for maintaining an environmentally acceptable state, the government has put in place a fine of US$30 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent for flaring on the FPSOs.

“There is a live feed for discharge water, and they do independent samples of the water to be discharged. They test it to ensure that the water meets the standards that are outlined in the environmental permits they received. We have strengthened those standards, and they are international standards,” the GS added.

Although existing systems effectively monitor offshore activities, the GS highlighted the government’s commitment to continuously strengthen its capabilities in this area.

“We need to continue building capacity at the EPA and in government itself, independent capacity and with government itself to do greater monitoring. We are working on it, but we do have some capacity to deal with this issue,” he stated.