Guyana’s EIA Community Meetings
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AS a new producer, Guyana has seen steady growth from its oil and gas sector as the country begins its rapid industrialisation. The government and ExxonMobil Guyana have launched a series of gas to energy disclosure meetings to offer Guyanese a chance to hear and comment on the findings of the latest studies on the project. These meetings are not a regulatory requirement, but they help to provide an in-person forum for people who want to be involved in the ongoing approval process for one of the most talked about projects in Guyana.
These sessions are part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process and are designed to allow independent third-party consultants who conducted the EIA to present their findings in an easy-to-understand format. These disclosure meetings are not intended to sway people to support the project, but only to present the facts and help the consultants hear feedback and comments from the public, which they can incorporate during the 60-day comment period established by law.
EIAs are an opportunity for communities to learn more about what project impacts were considered, what the findings were, and ask more questions in a safe and transparent space. The gas to energy project is a partnership between ExxonMobil Guyana and the government, which will help the country transition to cleaner energy sources and cut the cost of power by 50 per cent. The government is currently reviewing surveys and data gathered about possible routes for the pipeline to bring the gas to shore.
As Guyana’s appeal as a regional hub of the oil and gas industry continues to grow, investments for major new infrastructure are likely to continue flowing in. That makes a transparent and consistent regulatory process even more important. EIA disclosure meetings can be a great opportunity for citizens and interested parties to receive facts about the project in a setting where open communication is welcomed, and community engagement encouraged. The assessment is also available on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website and at Regional Democratic Council offices.
The EIA process is modelled after the United States and other countries that require environmental impact assessments for projects and offer public comment opportunities to give citizens more power over decisions that will impact them. In the US, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) allows for a transparent analysis of the consequences of environmental decision-making, including public comment opportunities like the EIA consultations.
EIAs in Guyana are carried out in accordance with international best practices and allow for a transparent analysis of the environmental consequences in decision-making. Generally, the critical stages of an EIA include screening to decide whether a proposed project should be subject to EIA, scoping to identify important impacts and issues that need to be addressed for the study, the actual EIA study and preparation of the report, and finally the presentation of findings to the public.
The government, in recent years, has committed to use oil revenues flowing into the economy to finance projects crucial for development. The gas to energy project, including the pipeline and power generation plant, should help reduce costs for households sharply while delivering a range of other benefits for the economy and health. Natural gas is widely used for power generation across the world, since it burns with less than half the pollution of the heavy fuel oil that Guyana currently uses, and produces electricity reliably at very low cost. The project should also help Guyana reduce imports and bring down costs for products like cooking gas.
Ongoing community engagements like these are critical for all Guyanese and interested parties to engage in the development process. The disclosure sessions allow for important questions to be asked and ultimately mold the EIA process to focus on the issues that are most important to Guyanese.

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