A joint venture between Guyana and Brazil will see the undertaking of studies beginning in early April to determine the possibility of developing two hydropower sites in the Middle and Upper Mazaruni, Region 7.
The studies—a prefeasibility and a feasibility—are estimated to cost US$45 million and according to Minister of Foreign Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, will be fully financed by a consortium of two Brazilian companies.
“The consortium, Queiroz Galvao and OAS is ready to commence the studies to determine the feasibility.
These studies must be completed and fully analyzed before any decision is taken by the Government of Guyana on the way forward with respect to hydropower development in the Middle and Upper Mazaruni,” the minister told a news conference yesterday.
The pre-feasibility study will take 12 months to complete and thereafter the feasibility study will take another 12 months.
On February 27, Rodrigues-Birkett had told the National Assembly that Guyana and Brazil have given the go ahead for the studies to be carried out. She had said that the new development came from a Memorandum of Under-standing on Infrastructure Development that was signed between the two countries in December 2012.
The primary objectives she had explained were for a hydropower plant, Linden to Lethem to Brazil road and the construction of a deep water port.
According to the Foreign Affairs Minister, a joint commission between Guyana and Brazil was established and tasked with presenting a report of its proposals to the presidents of Guyana and Brazil in early 2013.
In response to questions raised about Essequibo being a “disputed area”, Rodrigues-Birkett said “there is no dispute over Essequibo, it belongs to Guyana.”
With regard to the Lethem to Brazil road, the minister said that the two are “very much connected and we have decided that the hydro and the road should move together… The road will cost a handsome sum and at this point we are not able to increase our debt. The idea is that if the project proves feasible there is that agreement for Brazil to purchase the energy and then we can frontload and start the road. We will be able to get our road, sell some energy and get some revenue.”
Director of the Consortium Rodrigo D’Oleveira said the studies would include a hydrology or hydrometric study and an aerial topographical study.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds informed that on Wednesday last, a team comprising representatives of several parties of Parliament and other stakeholders interacted with residents of several Mazaruni communities about the project. “We led a team comprising the ministers of Foreign Affairs and Amerindian Affairs to speak with communities of Waramadong, Kako, Jawalla and Imbaimadai and we also met with the Regional Democratic Council of Region 7. We will continue these sessions with a visit to Paruima on Thursday and later to the communities in Middle Mazaruni,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the proposed project will see the setting up of two hydropower plants. The plant at upper Mazaruni will have a capacity of 3,000 megawatts, while the plant at Middle Mazaruni will have a capacity of 1,500 megawatts.
The Prime Minister also said that there were concerns expressed by several of the communities, “that there will be complete flooding of the area as was contemplated in the 1970s with the design of the project that was to be undertaken then. We informed them that with the advancement of technology there is a totally different approach to the design…”
He added that this has been confirmed by a preliminary review that has been conducted by the consortium. “We informed the communities that this government will not pursue the construction of any hydropower station if it required extensive flooding of villages which would have been the case in the 1970s,”he said.
“We explained that the studies need to be done now so we can move to the next stage which will involve all of the stakeholders as this stage does now.”
With respect to funding the Prime Minister said, “We don’t envisage Guyana undertaking any debt, arrangements will be worked out and the cost will be carried by the consortium.”
Questioned about the different approach government is willing to take to see this project being carried out, given the troubles with the Amaila Hydro Project, the minister said, “We are working on it… That would finish a long time before we get to constructing these facilities if they are feasible.”