“Legal consideration” prevents full disclosure of Exxon contract- Minister Harmon

DPI/GINA, Friday, June 9, 2017

Minister of State Joseph Harmon said, today there is a “legal consideration” that prevents full disclosure of the ExxonMobil contract.

The Minister of State is the latest member of Cabinet to defend why the government will not at this juncture make full disclosure on the contract. Minister Harmon was answering questions during post Cabinet press briefing.

According to Minister Harmon, the Petroleum Act provides for a “confidentiality clause” in contracts like Exxon’s “which says that during the course of the negotiations that certain things have to be kept in a confidential way”.

The 1997 amended Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act makes provision for the “restriction of disclosure of information” in Part II, Section Four. The Act stipulates that “no information…by a licensee shall be disclosed to any person who is not a Minister, a public office or an employee of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission except with the consent of the licensee”.

The Act can be accessed on the following link: http://goinvest.gov.gy/wp-content/uploads/Petroleum-Exploration-and-Production-cap6510-.pdf.

Meanwhile, Minister Harmon reaffirmed the Prime Minister’s national security stance against full disclosure.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo cited the unresolved border row between Venezuela and Guyana as a security risk. The PM noted, “We cannot do anything at this point in time to throw out the prospects that Guyana enjoys in terms of its resources in oil and gas.” PM Nagamootoo did assure however that government will ensure that there is accountability and transparency in the establishment and governance of the new oil and gas sector.

Additionally, the Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, had indicated that full disclosure is not within the national interest at this time. There have been mounting calls by individuals and organizations for the government to fully release the 1999 contract signed between itself and Exxon.

To date, the government has made public aspects of the production sharing agreement between Exxon and itself. Guyana will receive a royalty of two percent on gross earnings and benefit from 50 percent of the profits from the sale of petroleum once production commences in 2020.

“I believe at the appropriate time the Minister of Natural Resources will make a public statement on the matter. But the Prime Minister has said that we’re about transparency and accountability and that at all times we will keep the people of Guyana informed about what we are doing,” Minister Harmon assured.

 

By: Tiffny Rhodius

 

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