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“Exxon, the World Bank, and One of the Biggest Oil Discoveries of our Time”, Guyana

Exxon gets a lifeline for its declining profits on the most rapidly expanding oil frontier in the world and leaves only the crumps to the people of Guyana. The project threatens to release 4 GtCO2 and an oil spill would cover the whole Caribbean.


The title for this case and most of its information has been taken from urgewald’s documentary on the conflict [1].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:“Exxon, the World Bank, and One of the Biggest Oil Discoveries of our Time”, Guyana
Location of conflict:offshore Guyana
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Gas flaring
Climate change related conflicts (glaciers and small islands)
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Natural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project details

ExxonMobil discoveries in the Stabroek block lie around 190 km off the coast and contain an estimated 11 bn barrels of oil equivalent. The finds are at a water depth between 1,500 and 1,900 metres. The Lisa 1 field is currently exploited using a Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel with 120,000 barrels per day capacity and 1,6 million barrels of storage. A second phase of the project started production in February 2022 and will have a maximum production of 220,000 barrels per day. A third phase is expected to come online in 2023 with 220,000 barrels per day of additional production. A fourth phase will come in 2025 with 250,000 barrels per day, and a fifth one in 2026 with 200,000 barrels per day [4]. In 2024, there are plans for the extracted gas to be sent to Guyana for electricity production via pipeline. The total expected investment for the project is $29.4 billion [2]. Although Exxon continues to explore for more oil and makes new discoveries, which could lead to further investment and production.

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Project area:2,700,000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project29,400,000,000
Type of populationUnknown
Affected Population:795,000 (Guyana's population)
Start of the conflict:22/03/2018
Company names or state enterprises:ExxonMobil Corporation (Exxon) from United States of America - Operates and owns a 45% in the Stabroek Block
Hess Corporation from United States of America - Owns a 30% in the Stabroek Block
China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) from China - Owns a 25% in the Stabroek Block
Relevant government actors:- Guyana Environmental Protection Agency
- Minister of Natural Resources, Guyana Government
- Bharrat Jagdeo, Vice-president of Guyana
International and Finance InstitutionsWorld Bank (WB)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:- Justice Institute Guyana
- Organization for the Vicotry of the People
- A Fair Deal for Guyana
- Transparency Institute Guyana
- urgewald
- Center for International Environmental Law
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Global warming
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Oil spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Potential: Violations of human rights, Other socio-economic impacts
Other socio-economic impacts"The United Nations Human Rights Committee is requesting that the newly appointed government of Guyana respond to questions about how the nation’s recent expansion into offshore oil production will impact human rights" [12].
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (undecided)
Proposal and development of alternatives:The World Bank discourse on the environment defends the need to extract the oil to generate the sufficient revenues to protect the forest [1: min34:30]. Exxon follows this line and boasts its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes that fund conservation programmes [13]. Other CSR activities include funding education programmes and popular sports events [14][15]. Alternatively, local organisations reject this transactional view of the environment and demand to leave the oil underground and seek prosperity in a biobased economy leveraging on ecotourism [1: min 43.20] and demanding international compensation to protect its biodiversity and carbon sinks [1: min 40:09]. “We have everything that we need in order to be prosperous and peaceful” [1: min43:00]. The economic worldview of local organisations is at the antipodes of the WB “notion of development as economic growth” [1: min36.15]. The Organisation for the Victory of the People ascertains that “in a world of finite resources, the concept of endless growth at the centre of both capitalist and communist industrial ideologies is a flawed one” [6].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:ExxonMobil and partners are currently extracting oil off Guyana and are planning a massive increase in oil output in the next 5 years. The Government is backing the plans.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Documentary: CARBON BOMB - Exxon, the World Bank, and One of the Biggest Oil Discoveries of our Time. By Urgewald. 16/10/2022
[click to view]

[1] urgewald. 16/10/2020. CARBON BOMB - Exxon, the World Bank, and One of the Biggest Oil Discoveries of our Time
[click to view]

[2] ExxonMobil. 01/10/2020. Guyana project overview.
[click to view]

[3] Blackmon, D. 28/07/2022. Energy New Oil Power Guyana On Pace To Surpass U.S. Offshore By 2035. In Forbes.
[click to view]

[4] Blum, J and McGurty, J. 02/03/2022. ExxonMobil leans on Permian, Guyana for major production growth. In SPGlobal.
[click to view]

[5] US Energy Information Administration. 2019 Data on Guyana. Visited on 15/11/2022.
[click to view]

[6] Perreira GA. 06/06/2021. Don’t renegotiate the contract, cancel it. In the Organization for the Victory of the People blog. Visited on 15/11/2022.
[click to view]

[8] Marks, N and McWillians, G. 04/11/2022. Booming Guyana sets offshore oil auction under revamped fiscal terms. In Reuters.
[click to view]

[9] Global Oil & Gas Exit List. 11/07/2022. Guyana Offshore.
[click to view]

[10] A Fair Deal for Guyana. 17/02/2022. Stand with people of Guyana to halt ExxonMobil’s 4 billion ton carbon bomb!. In Avaaz.
[click to view]

[11] Justice Institute Guyana webpage. Litigation. Visited on 17/11/2022.
[click to view]

[12] Justice Institute Guyana. 11/08/2021. Case summary: Gaskin v Minister of Natural Resources et al
[click to view]

[13] A Fair Deal for Guyana. 22/03/2018. Crowdjustice page for A Fair Deal for Guyana - A Fair Deal for the Planet. Last updated on 22/05/2021.
[click to view]

[14] ExxonMobil Website. 13/11/2019. Environmental efforts in Guyana.
[click to view]

[15] ExxonMobil Website. 13/11/2019. Community and social responsibility in Guyana
[click to view]

[16] ExxonMobil Website. 25/08/2022. ExxonMobil Guyana announces sponsorship of Guyana Amazon Warriors
[click to view]

[17] Rystad Energy. 24/07/2022. Guyana Poised To Break $1 Billion In Oil And Gas Revenue This Year. In Oil Price.
[click to view]

[18] Fiona Harvey. 18/5/2021. No new oil, gas or coal development if world is to reach net zero by 2050, says world energy body. In The Guardian.
[click to view]

[18] Fiona Harvey. 18/5/2021. No new oil, gas or coal development if world is to reach net zero by 2050, says world energy body. In The Guardian.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Online petition to the Government of Guyana demanding moratoria of oil and gas exploration and extraction
[click to view]

Crowfunding to support the constitutional challenge to the exploitation of oil and gas
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:EJAtlas Team. MLP.
Last update18/11/2022
Conflict ID:6176
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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