Cabinet discussing Exxon contract -President says no prospect of intention to review at present time
Georgetown, Guyana – (February 14, 2018) President David Granger, today, said that there is no immediate intention to to review the contract between Guyana and ExxonMobil, indicating, however, that the matter is before Cabinet. Speaking to members of the media at the conclusion of the swearing in ceremony for the new Appellate Court Judge at State House today, the Head of State said that the matter is one that must be approached carefully.
“These matters are before Cabinet and it depends on what determination Cabinet arrives at but the Contract is an agreement between two parties and these things that have to be approached very carefully. There is no prospect at the present time that it is the intention of Cabinet to review it, but as I said it is before Cabinet,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Raphael Trotman, in an invited comment, said that the Government is committed to receiving the best possible advice as it works to develop the oil and gas sector, noting that the administration is in receipt of support from a number of agencies. While there is a lot of commentary on the matter, Minister Trotman said that Government is receiving a broad range of advice from qualified sources, adding that the Ministries of Natural Resources, Finance, Public Infrastructure and other sector agencies have been working with international organisations such as the Commonwealth, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Mexican Petroleum Institute and the Chatham House.
“In addition to [Advisor to the President on Petroleum], Dr. [Jan] Mangal’s advice, we have, over the last two years, been steadily building capacities and we have to start with the Energy Government Capacity Initiative, which is coming through the US [United States] Government. They have been here working with both Ministries of Finance and Public Infrastructure and to some extent the Ministry of Natural Resources. That is an ongoing project. We have Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs and they have held several seminars and have been providing support and advice to us on all aspects of the industry. We have a [Memorandum of Understanding] signed with the Government of Mexico and the world famous Mexican Petroleum Institute, which has been providing support, advice and even some scholarships to Government. We also have support coming from Government of Canada, UNDP; we are in talks with Trinidad and Tobago to lend some support. We are also receiving support from Brazil so there is no end of experts,” he said.
Support at the national level also includes the work of the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), as well as, the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “In particular we have the Commonwealth Secretariat drafting Laws for the last few years. We have completed drafts for the Petroleum Commission to be established, a review of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act and we have regulations, which we have sent out to the various Ministries. There are a host of advisors all of who are working overtime. We also have teams from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Government is receiving support and advise from a range of sources and not necessary from one person or one entity. These are all ongoing engagements,” he said.
Minister Trotman also reaffirmed Government’s commitment to transparency and accountability in the sector, noting that the administration is cognisant of the need for accountability to the Guyanese people. “It was this Government that decided to take us into membership of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI). In September 2017, we became the 53rd member of the EITI and that shows that we are not just talking but that we are making moves and it was in record time that we were accepted. We have also attended conferences for the Open Government Partnership. We are in the process of releasing the other contracts from this weekend. The people can see what obtained in the past and what obtains now,” he said.
Last week President Granger made it clear that it is Government that has to assess the advice it receives and balance those against national priorities to define policy for the good of all Guyanese.