House greenlights Petroleum Activities 2023 Bill

Guyana is expected to benefit from improved management of the petroleum sector as the Petroleum Activities Bill was read for the third time and passed on Thursday morning in the National Assembly.

The bill, which was released to the public for a 14-day consultation period on July 20, annuls and replaces the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act of 1986 to provide for the effective exploration, production, storage, and transportation of petroleum in Guyana.

Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat

It is the last of three major pieces of legislation passed by the National Assembly aimed at harnessing the benefits of the oil and gas sector for the country’s development.

Defending the bill during the Parliamentary debate, Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, stated that the new bill was created with consideration of current and future projects and activities within the sector.

“The 1986 Act speaks mostly towards exploration and production. Now, we are adding new dimensions in the form of storage and transportation of hydrocarbons, and… the geological storage license for carbon dioxide. This is also included as a new feature in the Petroleum Activities Bill,” he explained.

That license, the underground carbon storage license, grants entities the exclusive right to explore for potential carbon storage sites in an area, as specified by the license, develop the storage site, and permanently store and undertake activities related to carbon dioxide.

Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn

The new bill also allows for the issuance of permits to conduct geological and geophysical surveys, both offshore and onshore. These identify the properties and potential natural and man-made hazards, as well as possible engineering constraints on the earth’s surface and subsurface.

It also makes provisions for the smooth implementation of the Wales gas-to-energy project, by covering the storage and transportation of hydrocarbons via pipelines as well as the storage of natural gas liquids.

“It is important, because… we have mentioned that project over and over, and I think Guyanese need to understand the magnitude of this project, and need to understand that this single project will change the landscape of our country. This single project will decrease the cost of living and improve the standard of living for our people.

“That project is, or will be, the most transformational project in the history of our country. It will transform the landscape of the country,” the minister emphasised.

He noted that the bill is crucial to the implementation of that project, as well as several others.

“These are some of the areas that we would have improved on in the Petroleum Activities Bill of 2023 to ensure that we continue to build out that framework that will manage the sector in the future so that it can benefit every single Guyanese,” he told the House.

Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar

Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar, rose in support of the bill, pointing out that contrary to suggestions by the opposition that the petroleum industry should be managed by a commission, delegating responsibility to the minister responsible for petroleum management would promote transparency and accountability.

Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton

Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton, Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson Jr, and Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, also supported the passage of the bill.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson Jr

The Petroleum Activities Bill of 2023 follows and complements the Local Content Act and Natural Resources Fund Act, which were both officially passed by the National Assembly in 2021. Combined, the pieces of legislation allow for the prudent and transparent management of the oil and gas sector by the government.