MoNR rejects efforts to undermine its work, gov’t aligned in its role to manage oil and gas sector
The Ministry of Natural Resources notes a recent report in the media that questions the Government of Guyana’s responsibility in managing the nation’s oil and gas sector – specifically, the audit of costs proffered by the Stabroek Block operator.
We have observed that many of the articles churned out by the media entity in question are based on the publisher’s narrow understanding of the sector, misrepresentation of the facts and sensationalism for economic returns on sales of what has manifested into the doom and gloom newsprint of the nation.
Whether or not there is a ‘hidden political agenda’, the facts must never be distorted and Guyanese should not be fed with a daily diatribe of lies or used as pawns in one’s personal quest for stardom and power.
The ministry also notes the never-ending reports and analyses from little-known so-called “international experts”, who are merely seeking to gain relevance by being published in this newspaper. Many of these experts never knew of Guyana until a few years ago or have ever laid their feet on our shores, but are, nonetheless, given a platform to make decisive pronouncements on our future.
Further, the ministry rejects this intent to undermine its work in building out a regulatory framework that adheres to international best practices and an economic model that will provide benefits for all Guyanese. We further, wish to state pellucidly that the Government of Guyana is clearly aligned in its role to manage the sector and has implemented a number of measures to regulate the sector since taking office. Some of these enhancements include:
1. An updating of the principles and conditions of all new petroleum production licenses;
2. The enactment of the local content legislation and the establishment of the Local Content
3. The review and strengthening of the Natural Resource Fund Act to provide greater oversight and management of revenue;
4. Applying new environmental permitting conditions and fees;
5. Conducting cost recovery audits;
6. The continuous review and modernizing of the legislative framework for the oil and gas sector;
7. Updating of the 1986 Petroleum and Exploration Act;
8. Development of offshore safety regulations;
9. Development of hydrocarbon environmental management regulations and;
10. Promoting inter-agency collaboration to improve monitoring capabilities (Ministry of Natural Resources; the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission; Guyana National Bureau of Standards and the Guyana Revenue Authority).
We wish to remind readers that Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, who plays a leading role in the judicious management of Guyana’s oil and gas sector, has repeatedly, by way of numerous press conferences, articulated updates relating to the management of the oil and gas sector, more particularly the conduct of audits.
Furthermore, the Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. Vickram Bharrat M.P., in his presentation as part of Budget 2023, indicated publicly to the House that a preliminary audit of the 2018 to 2020 costs submitted by the Stabroek Block operator had been prepared, kick-starting the sixty-day reply period that the operator, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), is entitled to. During those sixty days, the operator is given an opportunity to review and issue a reply to the government following the receipt of the report. It is the ministry’s understanding that this period is yet to elapse.
Pursuant to the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) between the contractor and the government, specifically under the Auditing and Inspection Rights of the Government, the minister has a legal right to carry out further investigation within sixty days of the contractor’s reply, should the report or reply require further investigation.
Readers may recall that for the auditing of costs, a local consortium was hired, which partnered with renowned international consultants. The decision to identify a local consortium for the conducting of audits is entirely in keeping with the government’s goal of building and expanding local capacity. We believe strongly that by exposing Guyanese and Guyanese firms to petroleum-related activities, we are better able and equipped to adequately support this massive sector. The Ministry of Natural Resources will remain steadfast in achieving its goals in the expansion of the hydrocarbon sector, its sustainability, environmental soundness and lucrativeness, and will not be distracted by characters aimed at misinforming, misguiding and sensationalizing matters.