Gas-to-shore project anywhere but Wales could be “disastrous” – Jagdeo

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…likely to contribute to pollution, chemicals harmful to the environment

 By Lisa Hamilton

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo said on Tuesday that Guyana’s gas-to-shore project was diverted to the Wales Estate as it could pose an environmental threat if it were to be built in the highly populated area of Region Four.

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At a press conference where several matters were discussed, Jagdeo elaborated on the project even as he outlined that the upcoming budget will be investing significantly in energy.

The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration is in the process of developing a gas-to-shore project which would transport gas from the Stabroek Block to supply up to 250 megawatts of energy to the national grid.

This would significantly reduce electricity costs. Though it has been a plan for both the current and previous Governments, with the PPP/C now in Office, it has control over the direction and execution of the project.

There had been potential sites announced for the project in the recent past such as Vreed-en-Hoop, West Coast Demerara (WCD); Ogle, East Coast Demerara (ECD); Greenfield, Mahaica, ECD and Crab Island in the Berbice River.

However, Jagdeo said that the Government could not proceed with the Greenfield location as the land there was privately-owned. Meanwhile, he said that areas on the ECD could not be proceeded with as much protest came from residents there and the environmental risk was not worth it.

“When we got into office we made a conscious decision that we will not bring the gas-to-energy project into Region 4, into Ogle or the East Bank because that corridor is set for major development, the price of the land is extremely high and a lot of the industries that we have to place around the oil and gas facility might be industries that are a bit polluting and therefore, to bring that so close to the city and the population center will be disastrous and given the protest that we’ve had about the establishment on the East Bank of these chemical facilities, we thought it best to explore two options there where you have large virgin lands and low population density at Wales because of the closure there and the Crab Island area,” the Vice President explained.

After assessment, the Wales location was found to be less costly and the Government is now in the process of creating a “master plan” for the development of the area.

It will determine where the pipeline, power plant, gas facilities, chemical industries would be located as well as other industries around the area. Jagdeo said that their specific locations are important because, depending on the type of power plant used, there may be “steam coming out of the power plant”.

There are four separate studies being conducted to bring the project to fruition. They include a geophysical study, a geotechnical study, an environmental impact study and more.

Despite public comment from Environmentalists, he assured that it is only when these studies are completed that the design for pipelines will be developed in keeping with the studies. In fact, he projected that the gas-to-shore pipeline will likely not be completed until 2023.

The Vice President stated: “I saw some people, some weird ‘environmentalist’ saying its criminal to have the pipeline being dealt etcetera. Several studies are in the process of being contracted…when those are completed or when they are nearing completion the design will be done for the pipeline, consistent with the findings of the studies. Only then, after all of this has been done, then we’ll move forward to the construction phase of the pipeline. So, we’re a good year and possibly a year and a half away from constructing any pipeline…the pipeline construction itself is 18 months, two years so that’s why we were setting a realistic target of about mid-2023 or maybe to the end of 2023 for the completion of the pipeline.”

When it is decided where the pipeline will terminate, the government will move to tender for the construction of the power plant.

The project could also see the establishment of a Wales Development Authority which the aforementioned industries could come under if not under central government.



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