Remarks by the Hon. Raphael G.C Trotman, M.P. Minister of Natural Resources at the Civil Defence Commission Stakeholder Consultation Meeting On the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan.

(March 28, 2018) Good morning all and thank you for allowing me this opportunity to share some brief remarks with you, as you launch into this very important meeting. I first wish to congratulate the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) for their efforts in moving preparations forward to finalize the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan. When one engages Guyanese on the Coast or in the interior locations two issues are often raised, jobs and our preparation for a potential oil spill.  This tells us that the topic is a high priority for Guyanese so no effort must be spared in ensuring that we are prepared for any eventualities.

As you are aware, on 15 May 2015, Guyanese woke up to the reality that we have large quantities of Petroleum in the Liza 1 well located approximately 123 miles offshore Guyana. Six successful wells later, those initial reserves have now grown considerably from the initial reserves estimate of 800 million barrels of oil equivalent to 3.2 billion barrels and counting. With every new find, the importance of a National Oil Spill Contingency Plan takes on an even more important role.

While as a government, we are cognizant of the potential risks which comes with developing this new-found petroleum resource we are equally committed to the protection of our environment and Guyana continues to be a fierce proponent for its protection internationally. In 1998, we became a member of the UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) and a signatory to the IMO’s International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation(OPRC). In 2010 Guyana acceded to the Cartagena Convention and all three of its protocols including the “Protocol Concerning Co-operation in Combating Oil Spills in the Wider Caribbean Region”. I am aware that the IMO guidelines have been a driving force in the design of this National Oil Spill Contingency Plan.

The Government of Guyana has also embarked on a National Green State Development Strategy which prioritizes the protection and preservation of our environment for current and future generations. One of the seven (7) guiding principles of our Green State Development Strategy is the Sustainable Management of our Natural Resources which includes the entire coastal area where fishing and farming are conducted as well as our water resources; both freshwater and the offshore marine environment which make up our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). This overarching strategy provides our most significant commitment to the preservation of our environment in tandem with the development of our resources. In fact, we have committed to using the revenue from development of our natural resources to advance the preservation of our environment. Guyana must be known not as an oil producing nation but as a nation that used its massive resources to protect its environment which also includes it people and the communities they live in.

To this end, as the lead agency tasked with completing the process of creating a comprehensive National Oil Spill Contingency Plan to guide our national response, the Civil Defence Commission can be assured of the full support of the of the Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Natural Resources. Support mobilization has already begun since 2017 with the procurement of four (4) containers of oil spill response equipment and accessories including Booms, skimmers, dispersant etc. These are presently stored at the CDC’s Alternate National Emergency Operations Center (ANEOC) at Timehri and will soon be pre-positioned at various locations to facilitate ease in deployment should the need arise.

Also in 2017, the Ministry of Natural Resources also held a Public Lecture on Oil Spill Response Readiness in collaboration with ExxonMobil and the Guyana Oil and Gas Energy Chamber (GOGEC) to promote awareness and address concerns surrounding this very important topic.

Further, capacity building is forthcoming through training for stakeholder representatives in the areas of Incident Command Systems (ICS) and Fundamentals of Oil Spill Management. These trainings will be held between April 23-28, 2018 at the CDC’s emergency operations center at Timehri and Splashmin’s Resort respectively.

Stakeholder involvement at all levels is  also critical to the development of a robust plan that can hold its own internationally and protect our country in the event of an oil spill. I am happy to see that the CDC has taken a truly collaborative approach to the development of the plan by involving important stakeholders (Guyana Energy Agency, Maritime Administration Department, Environmental Protection Agency, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and Guyana Defence Force) in the process. The plan will also be reviewed by Cabinet after consultations are completed.

As you begin your collective deliberations on the form and substance of the national Oil Spill Contingency Plan, I charge you to see your work here as important and craft a National Oil Spill Contingency Plan that can efficiently and effectively keep our offshore waters free of pollution and our beautiful coastlines pristine for the enjoyment of future generations.

Thank you and God Bless you.

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