Insurance policies

All oil rig insurance policies and related documentation must be published

Dear Editor,

I call on the PPP/EPA, Exxon/HESS/CNOOC government to release all insurance policies and related documentation on this contentious issue of whether oil companies have adequate oil spill insurance. Mr. Vice-President, as you would say, it is “obvious”.

Civil society, environmentalists and the concerned general public have followed this simmering debate over whether the government and the EPA are exercising due diligence for environmental safety and security by ensuring that operators tankers have adequate insurance to cover all damages and consequences of oil spills. A recent article stated “ExxonMobil, EPA, Vincent Adams clash over ‘full liability coverage'” (SN, Aug 8, 2022). Of these three parts, I would choose to believe Dr. Adams’ story. Of the three, he is the only one speaking on behalf of the people of Guyana and those who want peace of mind when Exxon and his friends will soon have 50 wells operating at once and the risks are high, which we are covered by in the event of an oil spill.

Nation, is it wrong to ask for proof of insurance, since we don’t know if there is insurance or not? Why is the Minister and the EPA unwilling or afraid to release policies and related insurance evidence, to allay the nation’s fears? When the police stop a vehicle on the road, the first thing they ask for is registration and insurance on the spot. Is not it? Can you tell the policeman, don’t worry, I have the police at home and everything is fine, and if I cause an accident, I will pay for it? Wouldn’t he drag you to the police station, charge you, and probably impound your car? We need the EPA to be our police so they don’t look like they’re the public relations arm of the oil companies. People have the right to see insurance documentation for all projects. We have low trust in the government, the EPA and the oil companies. They seem to be on the same side and on the same team against the Guyanese.

Also, if you have a new car, wouldn’t you buy all-risk and collision insurance instead of the minimum liability insurance? The government knows that the issue of insurance is a big problem for the people of Guyana, so why would the government not release the documents to reassure us? Does the government think that Mr. Glenn Lall, KN, SN and civil society would walk away if they continued to play hardball? Why should the EPA/Government be required to be transparent and accountable on such an important issue? The EITI and Escazu, the World Bank, the IMF and international agencies are watching what the government is going to do. It’s our country and our wealth, and we’re watching you, watching you. Release all insurance documents now!

Sincerely,

Dr. Jerry Jailall