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New Petroleum Law ensures Guyana’s oil projects’ smooth implementation

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The new Petroleum Activities Bill, which was approved by the National Assembly early on Thursday morning, opened the way for the successful completion of a number of government initiatives in the embryonic oil and gas industry. Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat oversaw the Bill and called it a “comprehensive” piece of law.

Once passed, the new Bill will take the place of Guyana’s Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act from 1986. And Bharrat claimed that the new Bill makes a number of recent events in Guyana and upcoming government initiatives possible.

For example, the government is hoping that an oil refinery will be established in Guyana to process some of the oil produced offshore. Bharrat said this Bill caters for that refinery.

It also caters for the storage and transportation of hydrocarbons, the implementation of the massive Wales Gas-to-Energy project and new geological and geophysical surveys offshore and onshore. The Bill also outlines stiff penalties for violations.

Opposition Parliamentarian David Patterson

Though lawmakers on the government and opposition sides of the House agreed that a new Bill was needed to regulate the sector, Opposition Parliamentarians asked for the Bill to also pave the way for a Petroleum Commission that would manage the sector as opposed to a government minister.

Opposition Parliamentarian David Patterson, who proposed amendments to the Bill, was keen on having that Commission in place so that it could provide much-needed technical advice to the government.

Bharrat said the government will pursue that Commission, just not now.

“Amending it (the Petroleum Activities Bill) to have the Petroleum Commission now when there is no mechanism in place as to how we will establish that Commission, I don’t think that is something we can consider at this time.

“But Mr. Speaker, we as a government, we are committing that there will be a Petroleum Commission,” Minister Bharrat said.

The second reading of the Bill started just before midnight Thursday and lawmakers from both sides shared their views on it until 06:30 hrs Thursday. Importantly, this legislation was needed before the oil blocks auction.

The final extension for that oil blocks auction is September 12, 2023. And Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo said the government wanted this new legislation passed in the National Assembly before that time.

The government, Jagdeo said, also wanted the new model Production Sharing Agreements (commonly called the oil contracts) to be finalized before.





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