Guyana will soon have a coordinated Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) regarding oil spills prepared through a multi-stakeholder workshop currently underway. The workshop is being hosted by the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) with assistance from the United States (US) Southern Command which is currently meeting with local stakeholders at the Grand Coastal Inn ..
Local stakeholders include the Guyana Defence Force, Police Force, Guyana Fire Service, Guyana Prison Service, Ministry of Public Health and Exxon Mobil.
Director General CDC Col (Ret’d), Chabilall Ramsarup, said the workshop will be reviewing policies, plans and procedures currently in place and examine the roles and responsibilities of all agencies. Additionally, the workshop will ascertain what more can be added to the plans and policies and, what additional roles and responsibilities can be assigned to the SOP for more efficiency.
“What we don’t have is a coordination plan on the national side and a number of institutions are expected to respond if we do have an oil spill; God forbid,… we have to have a preparedness plan in place for the coordination of what happens on ground if something happens. CDC is tasked with that coordination, but a number of agencies will be involved, once something happens the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) is going to be activated and a number of organisations will find themselves in CDCs headquarters to plan and execute a response, ” Ramsarup explained.
Lt. Col Mike Forson, Officer in Charge of the Florida National Guard team who will be conducting the training, explained that their role in the workshop is to help facilitate it and share their 25 plus years of experience with local stakeholders.
“We have a lot of experience being a gulf of Mexico state with deep water horizon, lots of insight with how various agencies including the military had been involved in that, how we assisted. Our goal is to give you the ingredients focusing on the oil spill aspect of it to help you come up with a plan to see in the unfortunate event that something should occur,” Lt Col Mike Forson said.
In recent years the Civil Defence Commission made significant strides in furthering Guyana’s preparedness level to respond to any emergency or disaster. These measures saw regional emergency plans and procedures being developed and tested annually to ensure effectiveness is maintained.
Last year Exxon made a significant oil discovery in the Stabroek Block, located around 120 miles offshore Guyana. Even with the initial find, experts said that Guyana will be placed prominently on the oil and gas map.