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I watched with amusement, Exxon’s latest statement of March 2, 2022, and the frenzied utterings of our Honourable Vice President, even calling me a liar. I respect the office of the VP, so will not debase myself to the indignity of responding in kind, but will leave it to the people who know him better than I do, to pass judgment on his credibility to call others liars. However, I was highly disappointed, as all Guyanese should be, by the VP’s injection of the race card into this debate, apparently not even realizing that my mother is East Indian. In a country where we are so strongly divided by race, good leadership and Governance desire words of unity, not words of divisiveness.
As related to the ongoing concern about lack of full liability coverage, I will further lay out more facts herein. True to form, in its latest statement, Exxon has once again succeeded in spinning our heads when now forced to admit that the insurance document they denied, does in fact exist with even the date that I had attested; but nevertheless, they still keep dodging our constant call to release the insurance policy document required by the Permit, for all to see the amount of insurance and what it covers. This conundrum reminds of when Exxon led the VP to falsely assert that I had tied his hands with a 14 Billion Cubic feet gas flaring allowance, only to be thrown under the bus by Exxon when they disassociated themselves from such a fib.
Worse though, it now appears that Exxon may have violated the Liza 2 Permit and laws of Guyana, when they started production of Liza 2 without providing to EPA, proof of full liability coverage comprising an insurance policy, and a parent companies Agreement covering all liabilities above the insurance amount. As all may recall over the past few days, Exxon vehemently denied the existence of any such requirements, so here are the facts contrary to their avowal.
The entire Section 12 “Liability For Pollution Damage” of the Liza 1 Permit signed by Mr. Parsram in 2017, constitutes only half of a page of content comprising of four sub bullets – all only referring to EEPGL as the Permit Holder responsible for any damages. Besides EEPGL not having assets to cover any liabilities of a major spill, there was no Insurance nor Parent Company liability coverage in the Permit. To correct this flaw, I immediately demanded requirements for private insurance, plus an Agreement from the parent companies Exxon, Hess and CNOOC to cover all liabilities over the insurance amount. These 3-page requirements were incorporated in the early 2019 Yellowtail 1 and Liza 2 Permits and all subsequent Permits.
Section12.1 of the Permits states “The Permit Holder shall have insurance..”
Section 12.4: “The EPA shall review the environmental liability insurance policy. Such review is subject to Provision of the amount of cover; supplementary to cover gaps in the primary cover; notification to EPA of modification, cancellation, expiration, intent to renew, renewal or non-renewal and expiry dates of the policy; reports on whether the insurance policy is maintained or renewed for EPA to determine if it is acceptable or if it requires a replacement policy; the final insurance policy or certificate of insurance; and evidence of payment of premium”.
Section 12.5 states “Permit Holder must provide from the Parent Company or affiliate companies…one or more legally binding agreements to the EPA, undertaking to provide adequate financial resources to pay or satisfy their respective obligations if EEPGL fails to do so.”
The above provides irrefutable proof of the legal requirements enshrined in the Permits for both an insurance and a parent companies Agreement to cover amounts over the insurance – exactly what I have been avouching, and exactly what VP Jagdeo and Exxon have denied. By their denial, Exxon may have now admitted violating the Liza 2 Permit by commencing operations without these documents to EPA. Oh what a tangled web we weave/when first we practice to deceive!
Additional information indicates that Exxon remained well aware of these requirements based upon written communication between EPA and Exxon concerning EPA requesting “certified copies of international insurance Agreement for the Payara Project” before start of production.
I once again call upon Exxon to release the documents required by the Permits for all to see, and prove that the Liza 2 Permit was not violated by not submitting these documents before start-up. Failure to do so, requires an independent investigation, because of lack of trust and because there is no telling what other laws are being broken, exposing the country to dangerous risks.
Dr Vincent Adams