Int’l oil expert dubs Global Witness report “opportunistic, irresponsible, ultimately destructive”
DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, February 5, 2020
International oil and gas advisor Dr Valérie Marcel criticised a recent report by Global Witness about Guyana’s oil and gas sector, labelling the release as “opportunistic, irresponsible and ultimately destructive.”
The international NGO’s report suggested that Guyana will be losing out of the contract it signed with US oil and gas company Exxon Mobil.
However, Dr Marcel, who has been providing oil and gas expertise to governments in Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and South America, suggested that the report is calculated as it was released just a few weeks ahead of a “crucial election.”
“This election matters particularly because it’s the first following oil discoveries …. It will decide who gets to rule with the sudden influx of production revenues. This election matters, “the oil expert tweeted earlier today.
According to Marcel, the report is irresponsible because it’s “not even-handed” in its treatment of the two license negotiations by both the coalition government and the previous administration.
“In a context fraught with disinformation and innuendo, this report adds fuel to the fire, but does not provide clarity,” she continued via Twitter.
“It insinuates conflicts of interest with regards to Minister Trotman but does not demonstrate them. It argues a trip to Houston (unethically) paid for by ExxonMobil caused Trotman to negotiate poorly. That’s pretty unconvincing. GW (Global Witness) should have stuck with an assessment of the deal itself,” she further stated.
She said GW report doesn’t “deliver the goods in terms of proving how ExxonMobil exerted excessive pressure on the low-capacity government that was completely new to the sector. That’s too bad because that’s the interesting story to tell.”
According to Dr. Marcel, Guyana is not unique in the struggle to assert itself “vis-à-vis a very powerful company.” She said that is for this reason that the members of the New Producers Group, co-organised by Chatham House, coach each other on how to handle such interactions.
“The report recommends with astonishing naivety that the US State Department should bring Exxon [Mobil] back to the table to renegotiate the deal & act as a neutral mediator. It’s laughable. State’s role is to protect US strategic & commercial interests, not the interests of Guyana.”
She recorded that Guyana’s government for its part had the award of Kaieteur block investigated by law firm Clyde & Co and was submitted on 30 January.
The government on Tuesday already called out the report as “sensationalist, agenda-driven and extraordinarily speculative.”
According to Chatam House, Dr Marcel is project lead for the New Producers Group, a South-South knowledge-sharing network of 31 emerging oil and gas producer countries Her areas of expertise according to Chatam House, include National oil companies, Petroleum sector governance, Emerging oil and gas producers, oil and politics in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Algeria, Iraq and strategic changes in the industry, involving oil companies, service companies and national oil companies.