As Guyana gears up to becoming a major player in the oil and gas industry in this part of the world, the effective and efficient response to onshore and offshore oil spills is getting attention.
A three-day training programme is currently underway looking at the issue and it has brought together members of the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan Committee, first responders and department heads.
The training programme is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Natural Resources, ExxonMobil and the Civil Defence Commission (CDC).
According to officials,the training seeks to improve the country’s national oil spill response capacity to ensure the well-organised development and deployment of systematic tools for command, control, and coordination of a multi-agency response to incidents.
The course is providing the means to coordinate the efforts of individual agencies in their common goal toward the stabilisation of an incident and the protection of lives, property, and the environment.
During Monday’s opening, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon noted that issues, such as oil spills, are a major concern for the government, given its emphasis on the creation and maintenance of a safe, healthy and sustainable environment within the context of its thrust of developing a green state and economy.
“We, therefore, look forward to the production of our first oil and the subsequent exploitation of this valuable resource, but we are equally, if not more concerned about the preservation of our environment, the integrity of our coastline and the safety of our marine resources. Therefore, even as we place a greater emphasis on safety and prevention and mitigation of oil spills and its related consequences, we have to pay greater attention to these things not occurring,” Minister Harmon underscored.
The State Minister who also has responsibility for Disaster Risk Management explained that the exercise is part of the government’s partnership with ExxonMobil to create an enabling environment for persons to benefit from various forms of training relevant to the oil and gas sector.
The Director-General (ag) of the Civil Defense Commission (CDC), Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig explained that the skill sets and best practices attained during the training sessions will increase the knowledge pool of the members of the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan Committee as they further the strategy.
Craig also reiterated that the exercise will strengthen the response capacity and preparedness of all the agencies and ministries which have a role in maintaining the Plan.
The workshop is the first of two Incident Command Systems and Oil Spill Response courses scheduled for this week. The other event is slated for April 26-28 at Splashmin’s Resort.