‘Oil spill’ legislation to be tabled later this year – VP Jagdeo

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

A comprehensive oil spill legislation will be tabled in the National Assembly later this year, setting out the proposed procedures for oil spill preparation, planning, and response as well as issues relating to liabilities and damages.

This landmark legislation will improve the institutional framework, ensuring good governance in the multi-billion-dollar industry. It will include a detailed outline of the state’s responsibilities and those accountable in the event of an oil spill.

According to the General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), and Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, the government aims to introduce this bill before the parliament dissolves for recess in August.

“[The new law] would cater for spills that occur in the transport of petroleum products…We’d have to have a mechanism that allows us to immediately tackle the consequences of this spill, but also a mechanism that could lead to the resolution of things like compensation,” Dr Jagdeo informed reporters during a recent press briefing at Freedom House, Georgetown.

He also said the administration is actively examining the legislation of other countries including the United States (US), to come up with some of the best practices for Guyana’s industry.

“We look at what the US did and many countries around the world. We’ve been working at this for a while now, looking at how [we] can strengthen legislatively, so we can have clear legislation [on] how to tackle these things; there’s no ambiguity, just in case this happens,” he noted.

Meanwhile, the PPP/C Administration has stayed true to its commitment to fortifying Guyana’s institutional architecture for the burgeoning industry, thereby enhancing accountability and transparency.

For instance, the government established a Local Content Act in 2021, paving the way for thousands of Guyanese to participate in the sector through employment and business opportunities. In addition, the Natural Resources Fund (NRF) was reformed.

Moreover, the Petroleum Activities Act of 1986 was updated. In 2023, the Ministry of Natural Resources hosted an auction for its remaining oil blocks offshore Guyana, absolving the first-come-first-serve model and giving other investors a fair chance.

During the press conference, Dr Jagdeo assured that the Petroleum Commission, which will serve as an independent regulator for the sector, will be appointed at a later date.

“We have fulfilled our policy agenda that we promised for the oil and gas sector,” the general secretary underscored.

The government’s efforts have not gone unnoticed, as several reputable international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the World Bank, have recognised the progress being made in the sector’s management. [DPI]