In May 2015, ExxonMobil announced an oil and gas discovery in the Stabroek block, located approximately 120 miles offshore Guyana. This marks the first significant discovery for the country. We initiated oil and gas exploration activities in Guyana in 2008, collecting and evaluating substantial 2-D and 3-D seismic data that led to the company safely drilling its first exploration well.
ExxonMobil works in many countries around the world and in a range of physical and socioeconomic environments, including regions with established industry presence and those where oil and gas is a newly emerging sector. Everywhere we work, we are committed to conducting business in a manner that is compatible with the environmental and economic needs of the communities in which we operate. We work in ways that protect the safety, security and health of our workers, our customers and the public.
Environmental, regulatory and socioeconomic considerations
Guyana is an example of the collaborative and thoughtful approach we take when entering a new country. Before drilling the first well, we engaged the Guyanese government, communities and environmental and socioeconomic experts to gain an understanding of the potential interactions and impacts of our activities with the environment and communities surrounding our operations.
Our early engagement included consultations with key government agencies and stakeholders, including the general public, industry associations and non-governmental organizations. We worked closely with these stakeholders to identify and address potential impacts in our plans and develop appropriate protective measures. For example, engagement with the local community was instrumental in conducting coastal sensitivity mapping. This mapping included environmental and socioeconomic features along the Guyana coast, such as locations of coastal communities, farms, fisheries and other sensitive areas.
The effort also supports emergency response planning through identification of coastal access points and priority protection areas.
Environmental, regulatory and socioeconomic advisor
“Our studies found a high level of biodiversity that included potential for the presence of dozens of marine mammals, several kinds of sea turtles and sensitive habitats with three kinds of mangrove species. The northwest coast also includes Shell Beach, a protected area known to be a valuable turtle nesting habitat. Project plans take into account proximity to densely populated communities, commercial and artisanal fishing, public health and safety, cultural heritage sites and Amerindian indigenous populations. All of these areas were considered prior to beginning any drilling activities.”
Engaging with the Guyanese government
ExxonMobil’s commitment to responsible development extends beyond our own operations. We are also committed to supporting Guyana in its effort to achieve sustainable environmental, social and economic development. To this end, we are working with a number of government agencies to understand stakeholder priorities and objectives for industry growth, including a vision for responsible industry oversight and regulation.
ExxonMobil, in collaboration with the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and the Guyana Environmental Protection Agency, has launched a technical workshop series covering topics such as oil and gas development, globally recognized best practices, international standards and environmental management technologies. Early engagement and continuous open dialogue have helped foster mutual understanding and effective relationships.
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Engaging with local communities
Before beginning exploration activities in a new country, ExxonMobil endeavors to establish meaningful relationships that benefit communities and the company for the long term. Based on consultation with stakeholders and an initial community needs assessment, our early entry support in Guyana primarily focused on promoting education, especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Since 2012, we have supported the Volunteer Youth Corps, a nonprofit organization in Georgetown that engages ninth- and tenth-grade students in a variety of STEM after-school learning programs. The programs include practical lessons in physics, chemistry, integrated science and information technology, as well as a three-day science camp at a local environmental facility.
For the past four years, we have also supported Youth Challenge Guyana, which provides STEM education training to teachers and science kits to primary school students. In 2015, we expanded our education support to include a sports, literacy and leadership program in a traditionally Amerindian community as well as teacher training for a special needs school in Georgetown.
We are still in the early stages of our exploration in Guyana, and will continue to evolve and tailor our support for the community to reflect the needs and long-term goals of the Guyanese people, as learned through our ongoing community engagement.
Local workforce and supplier development
Our vision of sustainability in Guyana is one in which stakeholders benefit from resource development today, while protecting and building opportunities for the future. To realize this vision, ExxonMobil will continue to safeguard people and the environment, support government endeavors to be responsible stewards of their natural and economic resources and invest in the community of which we have become a member.
Everywhere we operate, we strive to develop employment opportunities for local workers and suppliers. Our local office in Guyana is staffed by more than 40 nationals performing work in various disciplines including accounting, office administration, procurement, public and government affairs, and security, safety, health and environment. ExxonMobil is working with local businesses to help identify opportunities to develop local service providers and a skilled workforce.
As we study the commercial viability of the discovered resource and build our presence in Guyana, we remain committed to responsible corporate citizenship by engaging with the local government and communities, evaluating and developing a local workforce and supplier base, and protecting biodiversity by implementing responsible environmental standards and sound management practices.